Twitter trials exposed alternative text feature ahead of possible global launch

Ben Bayliss2 minute read

Twitter is rolling out exposed alternative text to a small 3% of Twitter users for a limited release leading up to a potential global push.

Announced by Twitter, the social media network is rolling out 2 new accessibility features for 3% of Twitter users across Android, iOS, and Desktop. These 2 features include a publicly visible “Alt” badge for images that contain alternative text and a popout that shows the alternative text that’s contained.

Twitter detailed that this limited release will be available “for about a month” where the company will gather feedback, address bugs. Following that, there could be a global launch in April 2022.

[Update: I’m not part of the 3% apparently as the new feature described above lets you see all accounts alternative text. Twitter accessibility engineer, Andrew Hayward confirmed this in a tweet. “I’m guessing you’re not in the 3% if you can’t see it on everyone’s pictures,” he said after I mentioned the feature only seems to be available on my own uploaded media. The original post continues below.]

I appear to be part of the 3% (Turns out I’m not!) as I have an alt badge available on my images, and when I click it, a popout box appears with the description. However, one thing I’ve noticed is that this seems to only apply to my uploaded media.

I prefer using plugins such as “Alt or Not” (Disclaimer: Created by our very own web dev, Marijn) so I can ensure the content I’m sharing from other accounts is accessible as well. Hopefully, Twitter will keep this in mind and roll it out so that all users can access alternative text from all accounts that add descriptions.

The thread details more information about what alternative text is, and it’s teased that the company is working on an image description reminder. Currently, Twitter allows users to add alternative text to their images and GIFs but the alternative text is largely hidden, mostly being used by those using screen readers.

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Ben
BaylissEditor-in-ChiefHe/Him

Ben is the one in charge of keeping the content cogs at Can I Play That? turning. Deafness means that he has a focus on discussing captions, but with experience in consultancy and advocacy, he covers what bases he can. Having written about accessibility in video games at DualShockers, GamesRadar+, GamesIndustry.biz, Wireframe, and more he continues his advocacy at CIPT. He was actually awarded a Good Games Writing award for an article he wrote here! He enjoys a range of games, but anything that’s open-world and with a photo mode will probably be his cup of tea. You can get in touch with him at: ben@caniplaythat.com

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