Making Your Tweets Accessible

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By High Monkey, Our random thoughts collected

Categories: Learn

In 2016, Twitter introduced an image description feature that allows you to add alternate text to your images on Twitter. This enables blind or visually impaired users to hear descriptions of images, making Twitter a more accessible and therefore more enjoyable experience for all. 

Alternate text (also referred to as "alt-text") is used to describe images to visitors that are using screen readers because they are otherwise unable to see the content provided. Visitors might use screen readers if they have sensory disabilities such as blindness or low vision, but they might also use them due to physical or intellectual disabilities.

Adding alternate text to your images ensures that all users, regardless of disability or impairments, can enjoy your content. Simply put, adding alt-text to images is just the right thing to do.

Here is a quick step-by-step guide (with screen shots) on how to add alternate text to your images on Twitter.

Step 1:

Click on your profile icon and select "Settings and Privacy" from the menu

Twitter homepage, settings and privacy is circled in red

Step 2:

Click "Accessibility" (It's the last option on the list of settings). 

Twitter account settings page with "accessibility" circled in red

Step 3: 

Click on "Compose Image Descriptions" and then save your changes.

Twitter accessibility settings page with "compose image descriptions" circled in red

Step 4:

It's that easy! Now, when you add an image to your tweets, a little bar with the words "add description" will show up on the bottom of the image preview. Click that little bar to add a description (shown below)

Twitter 'compose tweet' window with image thumbnail circled in red

Step 5:

Here, you can add your image description, or "atlernate text". Click "apply" and continue composing your Tweet as you normally would. If you're not sure how to write alt-text that is helpful to screen readers, keep reading!

Twitter image description window with the image description circled in red

Adding "good" alternate text

So, you've enabled image descriptions on Twitter and you're ready to make your tweets accessible. Here are three helpful tips for writing alternate text that is useful for users with screen readers:

1. Keep it short: some screen readers only read about 125 characters of alt-text, so don't ramble through your image description

2. Be specific: Provide a good description of the image! Give users a text explanation of your images that is both descriptive and accurate

3. Don't include: language like, "photo of," or "image of," in your alterate text. Screen readers and users are aware that alterate text is referring to images, so adding these words is unneccesary and takes up space that could otherwise be used more efficiently.

For more information about making your social posts accessible and accessibility best practices, check out the University of Minnesota's Accessible Social Media Guide. If you're interested in learning more about web accessibility in general, the WebAIM Introduction to Web Accessibility is another great community resource.