A blind Twitter user who asked people on the social media platform to make a slight change to their settings to enrich his experience online has received an overwhelming response.
Veteran Rob Long wrote a Twitter thread explaining how – and why – people should turn on a feature called “caption description”.
I’m a blind twitter user. There are a lot of us out there. Increase your ability to reach us and help us interact with your pictures, it’s really simple and makes a huge difference to our twitter experiance allowing us to see your images our way. Thanks for the description 😎 pic.twitter.com/hCsjoFdmev— Rob Long (@_Red_Long) January 3, 2018
The change won’t just benefit him but thousands of blind people who use Twitter with text-to-speech translators.
His initial tweet, which has been shared and liked more than 200,000 times, explained that adding a description to an image is “really simple and makes a huge difference to our Twitter experience”.
In a later post, he explained that usually when the screen reader gets to a picture it simply reads out a placeholder phrase akin to “here is an image”, without explaining what it is.
With the accessibility feature enabled, the uploader is able to add a description.
This is how captioning works and why it’s important. Would really appreciate people spreading the word and creating a more accessible twitter for blind users. Thanks 🙈 pic.twitter.com/LMntCuEOqy— Rob Long (@_Red_Long) January 3, 2018
The additional description doesn’t count against character count and is only revealed via screenreader technology.
Descriptions can be added to each picture in a tweet, but not for gifs or video.
Since posting his polite request, Long has been inundated by people telling him they have turned the feature on and confirming they will be using it in the future.
Thank you for the overwhelming support in sharing the instructions for creating accessible images and captioning so many pics. I’ll try and respond to everything as soon as I can. I wasn’t expecting this much support. You’ve made twitter visible for so many people.😎Thankyou 😃— Rob Long (@_Red_Long) January 4, 2018
Long’s passionate tweet has been welcomed by Eleanor Southwood, chair of the RNIB and a regular Twitter user who is registered blind.
She said: “Social media is a really powerful way of bringing people together.
“Adding image descriptions to pictures on Twitter is quick and easy but makes a massive difference to blind and partially sighted people.
“That’s why RNIB is encouraging everyone to activate and use this feature so pictures shared on Twitter are accessible to everyone.”
Facebook uses automatic alternative text – known as alt text, it explains on its accessibility pages. It uses object recognition technology to create a description of a photo for the blind and vision-loss community.