Twitter has finally rolled out its ALT badge and improved image descriptions globally after testing them for about a month. According to Twitter, about 3% of users on iOS, Android, and Web were able to try out the new features within a month before they became available worldwide in early April. Until then, most users didn't have access to alt text descriptions unless they used a screen reader.
Over the last month, the social media platform has been making improvements to the process and gathering feedback from a limited group of users.
The ALT badge and image descriptions are the new accessibility features designed to make alternative text descriptions more useful and visible to everyone on the platform. Images with descriptions will have an ALT badge. Once you click on it, it will bring up the description.
Adding image descriptions allows people who have low vision, are blind, live in low-bandwidth areas, use assistive tech, or have a cognitive disability, to fully contribute to the platform.
Twitter also provided step-by-step instructions for how to add descriptions to images:
- Select the "Add description" option beneath the image after uploading it.
- Enter the image's description in the text box (there are 1,000 characters available).
- Once you click "Save," the ALT badge will be displayed in the corner of the image.
- You can now tweet your post. The description of the image will appear on-screen when someone clicks on the ALT badge.
Image descriptions were introduced in 2016, but it was tricky to find how and where to add them. Until late 2020, employees had to work on them on a volunteer basis alongside their day jobs. There was no dedicated accessibility team to make Twitter easy to use for those who needed it most.
It's possible that having alternate text on an image could make this feature more popular. If people can clearly see which images have it and which don't, they might consider adding it the next time they post. The Twitter thread mentions that the accessibility team is also working on an "image description reminder" that could help make alternative text even more popular on the platform.