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Why Aren’t Image Descriptions Automatically Enabled In Twitter?

Twitter has become a very popular social media service among the blind and visually impaired. This is because of how easy and accessible it is to share short bits of text. Unfortunately, images that are shared on Twitter can be a barrier to the blind. By taking a couple of easy steps first, it can make it easier for blind and visually impaired users to fully have access to what you are tweeting.

Since May 2016, Twitter has allowed you to describe any image that you include with a tweet. In order to do this you must activate this feature.

First you will need to enter the user menu by selecting your profile icon and select “Settings and Privacy”. Next, under “General”, select “Accessibility”. Once in the “Accessibility” section, scroll down until you find a toggle labeled “Compose Image Descriptions”. This needs to be turned on.

That’s all you need to do! Once you back out and compose a Tweet, you’ll be presented with a new box that allows you to compose an image description for any image that you post. This enables a blind Twitter user to use a screen reader software (like Voice Over for iPhone or JAWS for PC) to find out what your shared image is all about.

Features like image descriptions are nice and much needed in social media. I am quite grateful that Twitter has incorporated this along with so many other accessibility options into its service.

But why hide the option so deep within the accessibility settings? Most people might not even take the time to find it, let alone turn it on.

Unfortunately, it seems as though it was just an afterthought added in by developers. An accessibility feature like this is so very important to someone who is blind or visually impaired. A feature that is so simple and yet so important should be turned on by default. It’s a small gesture that would go a long way in making a big difference to those who are not always able to be included in the family memory, political joke or trending meme.

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