Accessibility is a public health issue

by @edent | , , | 3 comments | 250 words | Read ~271 times.

Dark times, my friends. Dark times. It's up to all of us to pull together. And that means making vital health information accessible. One of the easiest things you can do is make your Twitter content accessible is by adding descriptions to your images.

Go to and turn on "Compose image descriptions".

Here's why. This is a screenshot of a Tweet I recently saw. The images weren't loading because my area's 3G signal is overloaded. So I got the same experience as someone with a visual impairment.

A tweet which says "From the chair of surgery at Columpbia Presbyterian." There is a big blank image afterwards.

What is the message? Is it "keep calm and wash your hands"? Or "The hospital is full, please don't come"? There's literally no way of knowing. Think of the anxiety that Tweet generates to anyone who can't read the image.

If you are communicating important public health information, you must make it available to everyone.

Here's what it was supposed to look like:

(Sorry for picking on you, Bill. Yours was just the first of many I saw.)

Twitter lets you add up to 420 characters in an image description field. For some images, that's plenty. For the above text, a quick summary would be enough.

In the UK, public bodies have a statutory duty to make their content accessible. That includes posts on social media. Adding image descriptions is not an "unreasonable burden".

Please click on and turn on "Compose image descriptions".

3 thoughts on “Accessibility is a public health issue

  1. The Twitter account "CovidAccessInfo" - - is doing good work to encourage organisations of all types to make their COVID-19 related social media content accessible.

  2. Anyone can add image descriptions on twitter. I did for my most recent photo-tweet and it added about 30 seconds to the length of time it took to tweet. You don't need to be a big corporation to make a difference.…

  3. If you want to know what a pain tweets are when they include images without alt text, listen to this:…

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