Twitter has announced that users will now be able to add text descriptions to animated GIFs. Previously, this feature was only available for still images, but considering just how popular and frequently used animated GIFs are in tweets, expanding this feature is a very welcome move.
What Is Alt Text?
Alt text is an abbreviation of the term alternative text. It is text that can be attached to an image which describes what that image is showing. The alt text can then be read by a screen reader, or other assistive software/hardware.
In order to add alt text to images or animated GIFs, you will need to turn the feature on. To do this go to the Accessibility settings in Twitter and navigate through the options until you find ‘Compose image descriptions’ and make sure this option is turned on. Now, whenever you add an image or .GIF file to your tweets you will also find an option to add a description. However, you don’t have to do anything in order to read the alt text of an image. If an image does have alt text, it will be read aloud to you automatically by your screen reader.
What Are Animated GIFs?
A GIF, which stands for Graphical Interchange Format, is just a file format for images much like .JPEG or .BMP. Animated GIFs are small files that contain multiple images that are played back in sequence much like a short video. They are often used as a reply in lieu of text, much like emojis.
The big reveal was made on January 31st, from the official Twitter accessibility account.
UPDATE: The official Twitter Accessibility page @TwitterA11y is at it again! Now, the ability to add alt text has been included in Android and iOS versions of the official Twitter app!
You can now add alt text to any GIFs you Tweet from Android and iOS! pic.twitter.com/2dAmp3AQhK
— Twitter Accessibility (@TwitterA11y) March 5, 2020
Co-host & audio producer on the Double Tap Canada radio show. Occasional contributor to Double Tap TV, full time shed resident.