Twitter’s accessibility team launched a much-requested feature test. Ten percent of users, who make up the test group, will be served reminders to add image descriptions to their photo uploads, TechCrunch reported.
What is alt text? TechCrunch provided an explanation: Image descriptions, or alt text, are exactly what they sound like: descriptions of what appears in an image. Sometimes these descriptions appear when the image doesn’t load, but more importantly, they offer context for people using screen readers, who might be blind or low-vision. Alt text helps make sure that everyone can be included in the conversation.
Twitter posted a thread with more information:
“We’ve been talking about It. You’ve been asking for it. We’ve been working on it. Today, we launched it: the image description reminder! It’s live to 10% of global Twitter across Android, iOS, and Web.”
“If you forget to add image descriptions, turning on the reminder will be a big favor to your future self. And to everyone on Twitter. Actually, if everyone turns it on, everyone would be helping everyone.”
Twitter has a Help Center post titled: “How to set image description reminder”. It walks you through how to set the image description reminder – step by step. When you select “Add a description”, the image description field will open and you’ll be able to write your description. If you select “Not this time,” your Tweet will post without an image description.
Not sure what to write? Twitter has another Help Center post titled: “How to write great image descriptions”. There is a list that includes description recommendations such as: Capture what’s important; Be succinct, clear, and detailed; Be objective; Write out or summarize text in images; Use regular sentence structure and letter casing; and more!
I’m not sure if this test of the alt text feature was intended to roll out (to a small group of Twitter users) during Disability Pride Month – or if that was nothing more than a coincidence. It is a month for everyone in the disability community to be proud of who they are. It includes people who have long-lasting health conditions, disabilities, or mental health conditions. (Note: Disability Pride Month is not the same as LGBTQIA+ Pride month).
One thing I’ve learned about using alt text on images I post on Twitter is that it is very important to make what you write match the image as best you can. Provide the best description you can come up with.
Another thing I’ve learned is that a screenreader will read out the text of your Tweet as well. This means people who use a screenreader will be able to listen to it. Unfortunately, it also means that people might have to hear the screenreader read the description of each emoji you posted in the text part of your tweet.