Twitter’s New Update Set To Help The Visually Impaired

Twitter’s New Update Set To Help The Visually Impaired

Twitter’s latest update is designed to help those users who are visually impaired by allowing users to attach image descriptions within their Tweets, the update rolls out to Twitter’s iOS and Android apps users.

ERIN MARY Doyle
Posted by ERIN MARY Doyle

In a blog post announcing the update, Twitter’s staff engineer Todd Kloots said “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.

“With this update, we’re empowering everyone to ensure content shared on Twitter is accessible to the widest possible audience.”

People who are visually impaired will have access to the description via their assistive technology such as text-to-speech screen readers and braille displays.

Two screen shots of the composer for Twitter for iOS. The first showing the new Add description button overlayed on a thumbnail in the composer. The second showing the composition of alt text for an image.

How to use the feature:

  • Enable this feature by using the compose image descriptions option in the Twitter app’s accessibility settings.
  • The next time you add an image to a Tweet, each thumbnail in the composer will have an add description button.
  • Tap it to add a description to the image. Descriptions can be up to 420 characters.

Twitter’s platform has been updated so publishers and third-party clients also have the capability to add alt text to images, Twitter has extended the platform products to both the REST API and Twitter Cards. One of these third-party clients is Chicken Nugget, a Twitter client for Windows Operating System, which makes Twitter accessible to the blind and visually-impaired.

According to Christopher Toth, head of Accessible Apps and primary author of Chicken Nugget: “Users can send an receive tweets while focused in any application on their computer, using its innovative global hotkeys. These and all other Chicken Nugget features automatically speak through any installed screen reader, the software used by blind and otherwise print impaired computer users to access information in their daily lives.

“Users with diminished vision can enjoy Chicken Nugget’s features through its well designed and very simple graphical user interface, providing the ideal hybrid of both worlds.”