Twitter has announced a new push to improve its accessibility options in order to ensure that tweets can be accessed and utilized by all potential users.
As explained by Twitter:
"Testing voice Tweets earlier this summer made us realize how much work we still need to do as a company, and we made a commitment to make Twitter more inclusive for the disabled community – creating a dedicated team to focus on greater accessibility, tooling, and advocacy across all of our products."
Oh yeah, voice tweets, remember them? Twitter announced voice tweets back in June, but they don't appear to have seen widespread usage as yet.
You can Tweet a Tweet. But now you can Tweet your voice!— Twitter (@Twitter) June 17, 2020
Rolling out today on iOS, you can now record and Tweet with audio. pic.twitter.com/jezRmh1dkD
But then again, voice tweets have been a significant addition for those unable to type via regular keyboards, providing another way to engage with the platform and participate in the wider discussion.
That's prompted Twitter to re-think its approach in this respect. In order to advance its accessibility features, Twitter is putting together two new initiatives to work on key areas: an 'Accessibility Center of Excellence' and an 'Experience Accessibility Team'.
- "The Accessibility Center for Excellence will set goals, drive progress, consult and partner with groups across our core business functions to help make aspects of Twitter more accessible. This includes everything from accessibility in our office spaces to our marketing and communications strategies, to legal and policy standards, and more.
- The Experience Accessibility Team will work within our product org on new and existing features and products, providing resources and tools that promote greater accessibility on the service. They’ll work in tandem with the Accessibility Center for Excellence to ensure we’re held accountable in identifying and filling accessibility gaps throughout the product development lifecycle."
So, essentially, both internal and external-facing teams working on accessibility features within the company more broadly.
The two initiatives will ensure that there's always an accessibility 'voice in the room' for product and strategic approaches, which should help Twitter keep these elements in mind, and lead to the development of new product features and options aligned with broader usage.
And Twitter's already developing a new feature on this front:
"Beyond staffing our teams, we’re already working to add automated captions to audio and video by early 2021. This lays the foundation for a longer-term roadmap that invests broadly in media accessibility throughout our service."
I mean, Facebook added automated captions in 2016, so the option's been around for a while, while LinkedIn added automated alt-text tags last year. Twitter's seemingly a little behind in this respect - but then again, that's what this new team is for, implementing new solutions to improve Twitter's systems and tools in alignment with all user needs.
Twitter says that it will be gathering feedback from people with disabilities over the coming months as it looks to form a road map of key projects as part of this new push.
It's an important initiative, and while Twitter is seemingly a little behind, it's good to see the platform taking proactive steps to improve its accessibility options.