Improved image descriptions for better accessibility launched globally on Twitter

Twitter image descriptions

ALT badges and exposed image descriptions have been globally launched on Twitter after a period of limited availability and rounds of fixing bugs and accounting feedback from the release group in the beta phase.

Image descriptions or alt text improve the accessibility of images for people with no or low vision, users who use assistive technology such as screen readers that render images or text as verbal or braille output, or the ones who live in the low-bandwidth areas. Such users would be able to access a description such as “Two people seated at a dining table” or “A white coffee mug” by clicking the “ALT” button. Public ALT badges and exposed image descriptions are the new features launched on Twitter on Android, iOS, and the Web.

Public ALT badges and exposed image descriptions are the new features launched on Twitter. The platform developed these features by working on a user concern garnered on the requirement of improving accessibility on images for differently-abled users and ones located in low-network areas.

Both features for alt text or image descriptions had previously only been launched for 3% of Twitter users, the platform will develop the features further, gathered feedback, and fixed bugs over a period of a month, and roll it out with global availability.

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To view the description, users can select the ALT badge and the description will open, and it can be closed by selecting the Dismiss button, escape key, or tapping any spot outside the box.

The development towards making Twitter more accessible began in September 2021 when the launch of Voice Tweets unsheltered a gap that differently-abled users could not cross to access several parts of the platform. Prior to that, Twitter remained considerably inaccessible for differently-abled users.

This led to the initiation of new teams built to focus on this work, the Accessibility Center of Excellence and the Experience Accessibility Team. Automated captions to audio and video, and the newly launched image descriptions are a part of the long-term development of improving accessibility to the platform.

How to add image descriptions:

  • After uploading an image to a Tweet, select Add description underneath the image
  • Enter a description of the image in the text box. In the corner of the text box is the character count, users have up to 1,000 characters available
  • Select Save. An ALT badge will appear in the corner of the image. (“ALT” is the abbreviation for alternative text, the technical name for image description)
  • Select Tweet. When someone selects the ALT badge, the image description appears on the screen

How to add image descriptions to multiple Tweets:

  • If more than one image is added to the Tweet, users will see arrows at the top of the dialogue that allows navigating to each image to add the descriptions
  • Select Save. Afterimage descriptions are added, they’ll see the ALT badge appear on the images that have a description. A note below the images that say “2 image descriptions” also confirms how many image descriptions have been added