Twitter started rolling out abrand new feature
week that allowed iOS users to share recordings as audio tweets.
While lots of people were having agood timetesting the new audio feature out,
unfortunately not everyone could partake in the fun. That?s because Twitter
overlooked a crucial component to this new audio feature: accessibility.
> Here?s Maya Patterson, Product Designer at @Twitter
[https://twitter.com/Twitter?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw], addressing comments around
the accessibility of the audio feature. ?? https://t.co/7n2q6wOEDF
? Liam O’Dell (@LiamODellUK) June 17, 2020
[https://twitter.com/LiamODellUK/status/1273338653281050624?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw] Accessibility advocates criticized the microblogging platform for not being
considerate of its 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 those with disabilities can still consume content posted
on the site.
Twitter, in a tweet, chalked up the oversight to the audio tweet feature being
an early release of the product.
> .@TwitterSupport [https://twitter.com/TwitterSupport?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw] ?
Accessibilty is not an add-on feature nor is it an afterthought. #Accessibility
[https://twitter.com/hashtag/Accessibility?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw] is a
When businesses do what you?ve done here, you?re telling an entire group of
people you don?t care about them, they?re not important to you.
? Darren Bates ?? (@DLBLLC) June 18, 2020
[https://twitter.com/DLBLLC/status/1273608560262500352?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw] That tweet set off a thread that revealed a larger problem with the company.
Twitter does not have a ?formal team? that works on accessibility.
While replying to an accessibility advocate?s concerns, Twitter software
engineer Andrew Hayward revealed that those working on accessibility at the
company ?volunteer? to do so. He later clarified that the volunteers are indeed
paid employees of the company, accessibility just wasn?t officially part of this
informal team?s job requirements.
> The volunteers behind accessibility at Twitter (there is no formal team) strive
to do their best to ensure products are shipped appropriately. Unfortunately
though, we aren’t aware of every product decision, and the wider #a11y
[https://twitter.com/hashtag/a11y?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw] conversation is
? Andrew Hayward (?4.5m) (@arhayward) June 18, 2020
[https://twitter.com/arhayward/status/1273622013014392833?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw] If accessibility is viewed as an additional feature and not something built into
the consideration of the design and creation of a product, it?s no surprise that
the end result overlooks those with disabilities.
In a statement posted on its company account, Twitter explained that it is
certainly listening to those accessibility advocates who are speaking out.
> We’re sorry about testing voice Tweets without support for people who are
visually impaired, deaf, or hard of hearing. It was a miss to introduce this
experiment without this support.
Accessibility should not be an afterthought. (1/3) https://t.co/9GRWaHU6fR
? Twitter Support (@TwitterSupport) June 19, 2020
[https://twitter.com/TwitterSupport/status/1273794890543935488?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw] When reached byThe Verge
[https://www.theverge.com/2020/6/18/21296032/twitter-audio-tweets-accessibility-volunteers] , a Twitter spokesperson backed this up, saying the company intends to dedicate
resources to focus on accessibility across its products.
?We?re looking at how we can build out a more dedicated group to focus on
accessibility tooling and advocacy across all products,? Twitter said in a
statement. ?We missed around voice Tweets, and we are committed to doing better
? making this feature more accessible and also all features in the future. We?re
constantly reviewing both the functionality of our products and the internal
processes that inform them; we?ll share progress in this area.?
With the continued growth of audio-centric online content thanks to podcasting,
this surely won?t be the last time the accessibility issue comes up. However, a
company as big and established as Twitter shouldn?t have a problem dedicating
time and resources to making sure its platform is accessible to all.