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Image descriptions or alternative texts (ALT) are essential for websites to rank better on search engines. Still, apart from that purpose, these texts can also be used to aid screen-reading tools in describing images to visually impaired readers. On Thursday, Twitter announced that its ALT badge is now available to all users, allowing anyone to easily put descriptions of their image posts.
As promised, the ALT badge and exposed image descriptions go global today.
Over the past month, we fixed bugs and gathered feedback from the limited release group. We're ready. You're ready. Let's describe our images! Here's how: https://t.co/bkJmhRpZPg https://t.co/ep1ireBJGt
— Twitter Accessibility (@TwitterA11y) April 7, 2022
“As promised, the ALT badge and exposed image descriptions go global today,” reads the post. “Over the past month, we fixed bugs and gathered feedback from the limited release group. We’re ready. You’re ready. Let’s describe our images!”
Twitter also provided step-by-step instructions on how to use the new ALT badge. According to the platform, users can start by uploading a photo. Once uploaded, there will be a new option under the image labeled “Add description,” where users can describe the image uploaded in detail. The number of characters accepted is limited to 1,000, and you’ll see the actual count of input in the corner of the text box. Once you’re done, select Save and the ALT badge will appear in the corner of the image. When you tweet the post, your followers and other Twitter users can tap the badge to view the descriptions you composed. It can be closed by selecting the Dismiss button, escape key, or clicking/tapping any spot outside the box.
The public ALT badge and exposed image descriptions features were first launched and tested to only 3% of Twitter across Android, iOS, and Web last March 10. After collecting feedback and working through bugs for almost a month, the new feature is expected to make things better for users.
“Adding image descriptions allows people who are blind, have low vision, use assistive tech, live in low-bandwidth areas, or have a cognitive disability, to fully contribute on Twitter,” says the Twitter Accessibility team in its post. “We know these features have been a long time coming, and we’re grateful for your patience. We’re also working on the image description reminder. We’ll share more on that soon. Until then, tell us what you think about the ALT badge and exposed image descriptions.”
It can be recalled that Twitter started image descriptions in 2016, but the process of adding and finding the feature was truly strenuous. The company also didn’t have its own accessibility team until 2020. It was also divulged by the company engineer that prior to that, Twitter only relied on the development of its accessibility features to workers who were devoting their time. But with the creation of the new dedicated team in the company, it is expected that Twitter will be able to produce more features that will make things more convenient for all users.