Twitter is making efforts to make it simpler for users with visual impairments to access and understand images uploaded to the site. Until now, the images have been out of reach, even when screen readers and braille technology are working efficiently with text posts. Now people using the iOS and Android apps will be able to add descriptions to the images they post on the site.
Twitter giving a new feature to the visually impaired
Users will be able to provide details of the images they are tweeting on the micro-blogging site by using up to 420 characters. And with the help of assistive technology, the description can then be accessed by the visually impaired like any other text post.
“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,” Twitter says in a blog post.
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According to Venture Beat, this new feature not only helps with accessibility, but also search engines may find it simpler to identify particular tweets when they are labeled this way. It could prove useful even within Twitter’s own search field or through API partners.
Available to all, even developers and publishers
Research last year showed that tweets with pictures drive around 313% higher engagement. So far, Twitter’s visually impaired users have been left to use the third-party workarounds like Alt Text Bot and EasyChirp for alternative text. Now the social media firm has made the process of accessing photo descriptions less complex by building the feature right into the product.
After CEO Jack Dorsey came up with the #HelloWorld initiative to reconcile differences between Twitter and developers, the micro-blogging firm has been carrying out many improvements ranging from the ability to edit tweets, increasing the word limit, accessibility improvements, and more.
Carrying it further, Twitter has extended its newest update beyond its users by updating its REST API and Twitter Cards so that publishers and developers can benefit from the service as well. Thus, the new feature is likely to reach the majority of Twitter users, even though it is not available on the web for now.