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Twitter Apologized for Launching Voice Feature That Wasn't Accessible to Disabled Users

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What happened: Twitter issued an apology on Thursday evening after coming under fire from the disability community for testing its new voice feature without support for those who are deaf, hard of hearing, or who have low vision.

We’re sorry about testing voice Tweets without support for people who are visually impaired, deaf, or hard of hearing. It was a miss to introduce this experiment without this support. Accessibility should not be an afterthought. — Twitter

The disability community was vocal in its disappointment that Twitter had not incorporated accessibility as a starting point for the platform’s new voice feature.

The Frontlines: For people with disabilities, Twitter’s decision to launch a new feature before it could used by everyone on the platform is still a common occurrence despite laws that require accessibility.

  • About 26% of adults in the U.S. have a disability, 10.5% of whom are hard of hearing, deaf, blind or have low vision
  • A small study of blind people found that 70% of websites were inaccessible and 66% of blind internet users abandoned online transactions because of accessibility issues
  • The study also reported that inaccessible websites come at a cost for companies — an estimated $6.9 billion in revenue is lost each year by companies with inaccessible websites

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A Mighty Voice: Our contributor, Mary Fashik, shared that businesses should understand that accessibility is more than just a legal requirement, it is an obligation to their loyal customers around the world. “Meeting the bare minimum standards as far as accessibility is no longer OK. … Businesses need to view lack of acceptable accessibility as loss of profit. Perhaps then and only then will things change.” You can submit your first person story, too.

From Our Community: 

What do you think of when you hear the phrase “proper accessibility” #Accessibility #betteraccessibility

Add your voice: 

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Other things to know: Accessibility is important, necessary and non-negotiable in everything we aspire to be and accomplish.

What happens next: The social media platform said on its official account that it addressed multiple issues. New updates will be coming soon to the feature in a coming release on the Apple iOS platform, including making voice tweets identifiable on users’ feeds and improving accessibility.

Hang out with The Mighty: Join us to talk about the intersection of pride and inclusion in an upcoming Mighty event on June 24 at 1 p.m. PT/4 p.m. ET on Facebook here or YouTube here. Mighty Event banner on The Intersection of Pride and Inclusion.

Header image via Sara Kurfeß/Unsplash

Originally published: June 19, 2020
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