Twitter is taking steps towards making its platform more accessible to those who are visually impaired. More precisely, the company is introducing the ability to add “alternative text,” or “alt text” to describe your images.
This option allows people who use assistive technology – such as braille displays and screen readers – to hear a description of the image they cannot see or make out the details of.
Available in both iOS and Android Twitter apps, the new feature can be enabled from the application’s accessibility settings. There, you need to turn on the option “compose image descriptions,” which will then allow you to add a short text description next time you add an image with your tweet.
This isn’t a feature everyday Twitter users will think about using, and that’s okay because the company wasn’t targeting them when it created the option.
The 140-character platform was most likely thinking of larger accounts, such as those of brands, publications, and businesses, which can make use of this feature in their efforts of reaching a broader audience.
All who use the service will be able to “see” and understand their tweets and images with the “alt text” option. Twitter has added the accessibility to more than just its iOS and Android apps; you can also add alt text to images to its Twitter Cards and REST API.
This means that third-party clients and publishers will also be offered the opportunity to use this new functionality. It might be one of the most important aspects of function for the visually impaired as Twitter has specialized apps designed for them, such as Chicken Nugget, EasyChirp, and The Qube.
Twitter’s changes are also part of the company’s effort to respond to the needs of the third-party developer community. Last year, CEO Jack Dorsey announced Twitter wanted to improve its relationship with developers, so it started receiving developer feedback via the #HelloWorld hashtag.
Then, Twitter published in October 2015 a list containing some developer requests, such as the ability to edit tweets after posting them, improve lists and search, remove the 140-character limit, and make accessibility improvements to the app.
Since then, the company has experimented and considered a number of changes in response to the feedback. Even though rumor had it Twitter was going to remove the character limitation, this function for the visually impaired is the first to actually become part of the app.
Image Source: Social Control