People have beenTweeting images with alt text since March, complete with the alt badge and exposed image descriptions. Now, Twitter is taking things a step further. Starting today, you’re going to receive reminders to add alt text to images if you try to post one without it.
Twitter announced the news on Wednesday, July 13, that it has launched alt text alert reminders to 10% of users on iOS, Android, and the web. According to a report on The Verge, spokesperson Shaokyi Amdo said that the feature is optional. The reminder will appear as a pop-up before an image is posted without alt text, and users will have the option to add the alt text or skip the process by tapping or clicking “not this time.”
To turn on the alt text reminder, go to Settings and privacy, scroll down to Accessibility, display, and languages, tap Accessibility, and scroll down to the Images section. Here, tap the toggle called Receive image description reminder.
If you forget to add image descriptions, turning on the reminder will be a big favor to your future self. And to everyone on Twitter. Actually, if everyone turns it on, everyone would be helping everyone.
Here’s how to turn on the reminder: https://t.co/MR4KbZjrfy. (2 of 6) pic.twitter.com/J1jJBL2n8P
— Twitter Accessibility (@TwitterA11y) July 13, 2022
While Twitter doesn’t require users to add alt text to their images, alt text reminders was the most requested feature from accessibility activists. Alt text is a simple addition that makes it easier for people who use screen readers to understand the context of the image in a tweet. Some users have complained that adding alt text to their images is too much work, but others have defended the use of alt text. These new reminders may get everyone on the platform to add them more often.
After NASA posted the first new images of space captured by the James Webb telescope and added alt text to them earlier this week, some folks were quick to notice the long wall of alt text NASA wrote describing the universe. Chanda Prescod-Weinstein, author of The Disordered Cosmos, quote-Tweeted another user pointing this out, saying it’s important for people to hone their alt-texting skills and be properly compensated for making image tweets accessible to everyone while also acknowledging that alt-texting may be difficult for people with physical disabilities.
“It’s important to alt-text images (if you can — some disabilities make that hard). We also have to accept that description is a writing skill that people are rarely given encouragement to develop — if they are encouraged to develop their writing voice at all,” Prescod-Weinstein said. “The NASA image alt text is a great example of what can be achieved when teams work together and are given the resources to figure out how to say something.”
By introducing alt text reminder alerts, Twitter is encouraging people to help make their images accessible to Blind people.