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Twitter Enables Alternative Text So Images Are 'Accessible to Everyone'

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On Tuesday, Twitter announced it will enable users to add descriptions, also known as alternative text (alt text), when posting images.

“As a core part of the Twitter experience, it’s important that images shared on our platform are accessible to everyone, including those who are visually impaired,” the company said on its blog. “With this update, we’re empowering everyone to ensure content shared on Twitter is accessible to the widest possible audience.”

People using the iOS or Android apps can enable the feature by choosing the “compose image descriptions” option under the accessibility settings.

screen grab of Twitter app showing accessibility settings, including: "pronounce # as 'hashtag'" "include usernames in timelines" "read shortened URLs" "magic tap action" and now "compose image descriptions"

Then, when tweeting an image, you can add a description up to 420 characters. Screen readers and braille displays can pick up this description for users who are visually impaired.

Below is an example. When you tweet an image, like before, you add your commentary on top. But in the bottom left corner, you will now see the “add description” option.

screen grab example of Twitter app, showing a picture of a dog sitting in a car, with tweet above that says "Love this guy" and option at the bottom left to add description

When you click “add description,” the screen below appears, leaving room at the bottom to write your alternative text.

screen grab example of Twitter app, showing what happens when you click "add description." under the photo of the dog, user has written "brown dog with curly hair leaning against a car seat and smiling"

Twitter also noted:

To ensure publishers and third-party clients also have the capability to add alt text to images, we’ve extended our platform products to both the REST API and Twitter Cards. We know this is especially important for specialized Twitter clients for the visually impaired such as EasyChirpChicken Nugget, and The Qube.

We’re excited to empower our customers and publishers to make images on Twitter accessible to the widest possible audience, so everyone can be included in the conversation and experience the biggest moments together.

What do you think about this news? Let us know in the comments below.

Originally published: March 30, 2016
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