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Accessibility

Twitter introduces a feature that’s not accessible for persons with disabilities

Smartphone with twitter logo on screen

Twitter has announced a brand new feature earlier this week that will allow iOS users to create tweets using their voice as audio tweets.

The feature draws a lot of attention, but soon, things started going sideways due to a significant accessibility flaw in the audio tweets feature.

Accessibility advocates criticized Twitter for not being considerate of users who are deaf or hard of hearing when launching audio tweets. For example, many online platforms such as YouTube or Facebook provide captions to ensure that persons with disabilities can still consume content posted on the site.

The audio tweets are also inaccessible to other users with disabilities. They show a flashing image of the user’s profile photo. Even though flashing content is discouraged by the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, it can cause seizures in people who have epilepsy.

Audio tweets also present issues for users who are blind or have low vision who use screen readers and braille technology that can’t identify an audio tweet.

In replies to Emily Ladau and other Twitter users with similar complaints on Wednesday, Twitter said, “This is an early version of this feature. Making these types of Tweets accessible to everyone is important, and we’re exploring ways to make that happen.”

But experts say that accessibility cannot be an afterthought in product design, because ignoring the needs of persons with disabilities invariably leads to the creation of bad products that don’t serve all users.

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