Twitter issued an apology following the release of its new voice tweet feature without support for people with visual or hearing impairments.
In a tweet, Twitter said it was working on updates that would fix the problems and make the feature more accessible.
“It was a to introduce this experiment without [accessibility] support,” Twitter tweeted. “Accessibility should not be an afterthought.”
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
Twitter went on to say that it already fixed several issues related to vision accessibility that will arrive in an upcoming iOS update. The fixes include making voice tweets more identifiable on the timeline and accessibility improvements to the voice tweet experience.
It’s worth noting that the voice tweets feature is only available on iOS.
On top of that, Twitter also says it’s exploring ways to support both manual and auto transcriptions for voice tweets.
Finally, the social media platform says it is considering ways it can build a dedicated group to focus on “accessibility, tooling and advocacy across all products.”
While it’s good that Twitter is working to improve the accessibility of its experimental new service, it shouldn’t have launched without those critical features in the first place. As noted by Bloomberg, disability advocates say that people with visual, hearing and other impairments increasingly feel left behind as more things move online.
Thankfully, some companies are working to remedy this. Google, for example, recently added wheelchair accessibility information to its Maps application.
Some Twitter users responded to the company’s apology and called for the proposed dedicated accessibility group to be led by people with disabilities. Not only would a higher profile position like that be great for representation within Twitter as a whole, but it would also help ensure that future features arrive with proper accessibility support that would meet the needs of people with disabilities.