Accessibility is an important aspect of technology, and it's only in the last few years that companies have taken it seriously. That's why a new reminders feature from Twitter is great, but also strange in how it's being introduced to users.
Adding descriptions to images has been available on Twitter for a while. It allows someone with a visual impairment to read a small block of text explaining what the image is, from its colors to its location and more.
Seeing images on Twitter as you scroll through your feed is incredibly common. From memes to what people are currently doing, there's a bunch that some users can miss out on.
So while this new feature will remind you to write up a description when you add an image to a tweet, it's baffling that it's arriving to users switched off.
Analysis: One step forward, one step back
The feature is currently appearing to 10% of Twitter's overall users on iOS and Android, and if you're lucky to be in this group, you can go to Settings > Accessibility, display and languages > Accessibility and the reminder will show toward the bottom so you can switch it on.
However, this aspect feels backward. There should be a default reminder when adding an image – even just a few words to say what the image is can be enough for a lot of users with a visual disability.
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/J1jJBL2n8PJuly 13, 2022
In fairness, Instagram and Facebook have the ability to add image descriptions, but there are no reminders to add them in these apps at all.
There's been encouraging steps from Meta and Twitter in accessibility as a whole, but reminders should be a universal feature that's on by default, not the other way round.