Revised and Updated by Seth Preston on: November 20th, 2020
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285 million people are estimated to be visually impaired worldwide- 39 million are blind and 246 million have low vision. About 90% of the world’s visually impaired live in low-income setting. 82% of people living with blindness are aged 50 and above.
Twitter is taking a step toward making its service more accessible to visually impaired users. In an announcement titled “Accessible images for everyone,” Twitter has begun to roll out a new feature for the visually impaired: the option to add in descriptions of photos uploaded on the platform. By adding in a description of a photo via the alternate text field, you can allow those who use assistive devices like screen readers and braille displays to understand what’s depicted in the image.
The announcement explains, “Starting today, people using our iOS and Android apps can add descriptions — also known as alternative text (alt text) — to images in Tweets,” and goes on to describe how to enable the new feature.
“We applaud Twitter’s access efforts. Tens of thousands of people who are blind or visually impaired use Twitter every day, and they will be excited to use and benefit from this increased level of accessibility,” says Lee Huffman, AccessWorld Editor and Manager, Technology Information.
Also, according to Twitter, descriptions can be up to 420 characters—which sounds like a fun way to cheat the system and include more information in a tweet if you’d like to elaborate on an image.
How to Utilize the Alt Text Feature
People who want to use this option may have to Enable this feature by using the compose image descriptions option in the Twitter app’s accessibility settings.
To make use of this feature, upload your photo and click “Add Description” which is located below the image. Enter your desired text, and you’re good to go!
It’s nice, albeit unexpected, to see Twitter implementing accessibility-related changes, but it all seems to be part of their recent attempts to create a safer and more user-friendly version of their service. It’s a great change.