Twitter is working on adding automated captions to audio and video as part of a larger effort to make the platform more accessible.
In an announcement, the company says it was recently made aware it’s falling short in terms of being inclusive of the disabled community.
Back in July, Twitter began testing tweets that include audio only. Having no captions, or any other form of test, voice tweets were not accessible to all Twitter users.
“Testing voice Tweets earlier this summer made us realize how much work we still need to do as a company, and we made a commitment to make Twitter more inclusive for the disabled community – creating a dedicated team to focus on greater accessibility, tooling, and advocacy across all of our products.”
Twitter is committed to making itself more accessible, starting with the launch of several initiatives.
Automated captions will be added to audio and video by early 2021. Twitter says work has already begun on the feature, but clearly there’s still more to do.
This should assist with making audio and video more accessible to everyone.
Automated captions are by no means perfect, see YouTube as an example of that, but they’re certainly a step up from not having any captioning at all.
Perhaps Twitter’s automated captioning will be made better somehow. The company says it’s working with people with disabilities to gather feedback on new prototypes.
The feedback may help make Twitter’s automated captioning better than your average voice-to-text translator. Although it will be some time before we see the end result.
Twitter might be wise to go the YouTube route of allowing both manual and automated captioning.
YouTube users have the option to provide their own subtitles to videos they upload.
If no captioning is provided, then YouTube will default to automated captions.
At one time YouTube was experimenting with a feature called ‘community contributions,’ which allowed anyone to contribute subtitles to a video.
However, due to lack of use and reports of spam and abuse, YouTube is shutting down community captions at the end of this month.
Here’s more about the other initiatives to make Twitter more accessible.
New Teams Dedicated to Accessibility
Twitter is introducing two new teams to its company that will focus on making the site more accessible.
The Accessibility Center for Excellence
This new team will help make aspects of Twitter more accessible by setting goals, driving progress, and consulting with groups across core business functions.
This is an all-encompassing initiative that will improve accessibility everywhere from Twitter’s office spaces, to marketing and communications strategies, to legal and policy standards, and more.
The Experience Accessibility Team
This team will work with Twitter’s product team on new and existing features.
The role of the Experience Accessibility team is to provide resources and tools that contribute to greater accessibility on the service.
They’ll work in conjunction with the Accessibility Center for Excellence to ensure Twitter is held accountable in identifying and filling accessibility gaps in its products.
Twitter says these initiatives are just the foundation for a longer-term plan to invest broadly in media accessibility.
“We’ve partnered with external groups and over the coming months we’ll be gathering feedback from people with disabilities via interviews, surveys, and doing remote usability studies of new prototypes.”