Recently, Twitter released a new feature to a limited number of people on their iOS app, this feature gives people the ability to record a tweet with their voice, and in their own words, “Everyone will be able to see (hear) them and reply.”
There are several issues with this feature and the specific quote above.
Firstly, when adding video or audio, this creates an immediate barrier to people with hearing impairments. Unless of course alternative methods are supplied, in this instance, captions or a transcript.
Secondly, for those without the first barrier, there is a reliance on the listener understanding the spoken language. Written text can be easily translated. Tapping ‘Translate Tweet’ removes the barrier for these people.
Thirdly, filters enable people to block out content they do not wish to receive. These recorded tweets may contain these words.
Since writing this post someone already shared adult content. Which is detailed in the following article.
A Tweet Filled With Porn Noises Demonstrates Twitter Is Unprepared for Audio
Twitter — a platform that already struggles with curbing harmful content — has not detailed a plan for moderating its…
And finally, this opens up more possibilities for targeted harassment, or online bullying. Monitoring this content will be trickier for administrators to handle, should the recordings be flagged.
“Hey Emily, 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.” — Tweet from Twitter Support
Companies need to stop releasing ill-thought-out ‘shiny new’ features, look at what others have done before them (see Youtube for an example as to how they tackle the three issues above), and stop retrofitting accessibility.
“As a designer can I suggest you don’t try and retrofit accessibility in at the end and design your service with it right at the start. You are building a feature that is inaccessible to a wide range of people.” — My reply to Twitter Support
NOTE: The above is not a comprehensive list of what instances this feature is a barrier, as someone who worked with many non-verbal people, and people with speech impairments, I am aware that this also excludes them.
This post was originally published on June 18th 2020