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Twitter Accessibility Tips

Mar 4, 2019

Over 500 million Tweets are sent each day, representing roughly 347,000 chances each minute to reach the masses or to exclude large groups of people through inaccessible or difficult-to-understand content. Here are some tips to help create more accessible Twitter content.

Make your hashtags more accessible

Hashtags are designed to help people more easily share and find relevant content based on a particular topic. In order to ensure more people can easily interpret your hashtags, capitalize the first letter of each word. Sometimes called camel case or camel backing, this improves the ability for people and assistive technology to understand where one word ends and another begins. Applying this as a best practice will immediately make your Tweets friendlier for screen readers, for people with dyslexia or cognitive disabilities, and likely for most people.

To learn more, read Make Your Hashtags Accessible.

Add alt text to images

Adding a descriptive text alternative (or alt text) to non-text content like images is critical to creating accessible digital content. Assistive technologies like screen readers need this in order to describe an image or its meaning to the people who use them. In 2016, Twitter revealed the ability to add alt text to images in Tweets. First, you have to enable to the feature, and then you will be able to add text descriptions (up to 420 characters) to images. The company provides step-by-step instructions, specific to device type and popular screen readers.

Creating great alt text is a bit of a science and an art, and it is usually subjective — people naturally describe images differently, just as people take different meanings and feelings away from images. Aim for accuracy and helpfulness.

If you're posting an image that's complex, includes a lot of information or text, or for whatever reason can't be summed up sufficiently in the image description, consider if you can supplement or add more context in the actual main text of the Tweet. If that still won't do it, consider if you can link out to a text alternative for people who need or want the entirety of the information shown.

Don't forget other accessibility best practices

Even on social media — or perhaps especially on social media, considering the potential of reaching so many people — be sure to apply other relevant accessibility guidelines. There is a lot you can do outside of the official features and limitations of a social platform. For example, if you post an image of text, be sure the text has sufficient color contrast. Also, unless there's a reason you need to use complex language, strive for simple and clear language and avoid or define acronyms.

Related: Instagram Now Uses Artificial Intelligence for Alt Text


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