Twitter Unveils Two New Accessibility Teams Following Audio Tweets Criticism

The Accessibility Center of Excellence (ACE) and Experience Accessibility Team (EAT) will focus on greater accessibility across the social media platform.

The announcement comes after Twitter faced criticism from the disabled community in June for the rollout of its audio tweets feature, without a captioning functionality being made available.

Ashley Boyer, a deaf software engineer, tweeted: “As a Disabled software engineer directly affected by this blatantly ainaccessible voice tweet feature, it is incredibly soul crushing to see a massive company with endless resources release sh** like this and say ‘we’ll figure it out later.'”

Responding to the backlash, Twitter designer Maya Gold-Patterson said it was a “huge error”, while @TwitterAble co-founder Andrew Hayward revealed that there was “no formal team” working on accessibility at the company.

However, in a blog post published by Twitter on Wednesday, the platform said that testing the voice tweet feature in the summer made them “realize how much work we still need to do as a company”.

Their post reads: “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.

“We’re introducing two new teams we’re building to focus on this work: 1) the Accessibility Center of Excellence and 2) the Experience Accessibility Team, which will focus specifically on the features and products on Twitter.”

In an explanation of the two teams, Twitter said the ACE will “set goals, drive progress, consult and partner with groups across our core business functions to help make aspects of Twitter more accessible”, including accessibility in office spaces, communications strategies and policy standards.

Meanwhile, the EAT will work within the product team “on new and existing features and products” and promote greater accessibility on the platform.

They’ll work in tandem with the Accessibility Center for Excellence to ensure we’re held accountable in identifying and filling accessibility gaps throughout the product development lifecycle,” Twitter added.

The news follows a series of job postings from the company, including software engineers for ‘client accessibility’ and accessibility designers.

Meanwhile, Twitter has also confirmed that they are looking to add automated captions – which rely on voice recognition – to audio and video on the platform by early next year.

“This lays the foundation for a longer-term roadmap that invests broadly in media accessibility throughout our service.

“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.

“While this is underway, we’ll continue to test related media features,” they said.

The full post can be  found on Twitter’s official blog page.


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