The Internet offers a wealth of knowledge at our fingertips. Unfortunately, some ®people don’t have as easy access to that information as others. Twitter is hoping to help change that, and is making it easier for those with visual impairments to be a part of the Twitter community.
While Braille-based technology has worked with Twitter posts so far, images have been largely ignored. As of today, you will be able to add descriptions for images using the Android or iOS version of the app, helping the visually impaired get a sense of what the image is about despite not being able to see it.
You have as many as 420 characters to provide an image description that gives details of the image itself. Those descriptions, also known as alt text, will then be readable by screen readers, which is what the visually impaired use to read Web pages.
The release is also a sign that Twitter is looking to make peace with developers. The company has had a largely strained relationship with developers over the years, however, last year CEO Jack Dorsey invited developers to submit suggestions using the #HelloWorld hashtag. The request for alt text was the fourth most requested feature.
To enable the feature, you simply have to head to accessibility settings. After enabling it, any picture you tweet will have an “add description” button, which will open up a text box when clicked.
When Twitter first launched in 2006, it was a text-only service, and as such was accessible to the visually impaired. Since then, however, Twitter has added support for a range of different media, including pictures and videos. It has not, however, added support for alternative text for this media until now. Of course, it’s hard to imagine that the average Twitter user will take the time to type in descriptions for all of their images, however the feature could certainly be useful for publishers.