The Twitter application is seen on a phone screen August 3, 2017
The Twitter application is seen on a phone screen August 3, 2017

Little-known Twitter feature can help blind and visually impaired people use the site

First introduced in 2016, the tool has just started to attract a new wave of attention

Aatif Sulleyman
Friday 05 January 2018 14:03

A little-known feature that can describe pictures to visually impaired Twitter users has attracted fresh wave of attention after a blind user praised it earlier this week.

Although it was introduced in 2016, a tweet from Rob Long, which has been shared more than 100,000 times brought it back into the public consciousness.

He said it made a "huge difference" to visually impaired users of the social media site "allowing us to see your images our way".

You can enable the feature on Twitter's app and website by going to Settings and Privacy, entering the Accessibility menu and checking the Compose Image Descriptions box.

The next time you add an image to one of your tweets, an Add Description button will appear at the bottom of it.

Hitting it will take you to an Image Description screen, where you’ll be able to add a description of the picture – also known as alternative text or alt text – for visually impaired users.

However, the description won’t appear as part of the main update.

“People who are visually impaired will have access to the description via their assistive technology (e.g., screen readers and braille displays). Descriptions can be up to 420 characters,” Twitter wrote in a blog post on 29 March 2016, when the feature was launched.

“We’re excited to empower our customers and publishers to make images on Twitter accessible to the widest possible audience, so everyone can be included in the conversation and experience the biggest moments together.”

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