When it comes to Twitter features, new ones can be contentious – we’ve already expressed our displeasure with the edit button, which is rumoured to be in the works. Nonetheless, we can all agree (hopefully) that simple accessibility features are a positive development.
For quite some time now, Twitter has made it simple to include alt text with image uploads, allowing tweeters to contribute a description of an image to aid users who use screen readers or speech-to-text tools in understanding the image. Until now, however, if you weren’t using a screen reader yourself, you wouldn’t have been able to tell whether an image had alt text or not. As a result, if you wanted to make sure that the content you retweeted was accessible to followers who might be blind or have limited vision, you’d simply have to retweet and hope for the best.
Following a successful test conducted earlier this month, Twitter is implementing two new features to its alt text tool. Images with alternative text will now be identified by a “ALT” badge in the corner of the image, starting today. When you hover your cursor over the badge, you’ll see a description of the image that was submitted by the community.
On social media, users who do not have disabilities are frequently unaware of how their posting habits — including the sharing of specific meme forms — can have a negative impact on handicapped users’ online experience or prevent them from participating in the discourse.
The inclusion of alt text in images, according to social media accessibility specialist Alexa Heinrich, is a step in the right direction since it makes the presence of alt text more obvious, motivating users to learn more about accessible best practises.
It makes it more evident who is writing alt text and who isn’t,” says the author. Second, the function is a fantastic learning tool for anyone who wants to improve their alt text writing skills because it allows them to readily see what others are doing,” she wrote in a Twitter message.
Twitter has announced that these new capabilities will be available to all users worldwide starting today. Now is a great opportunity to discover why and how you should be writing alt text, as it has never been a better moment.