To many, it may come as no surprise that Twitter’s accessibility team was eliminated in 2017. After all, the platform has been known for its lack of accessibility throughout its history. However, given recent cuts across the company and Twitter’s decreasing staff size, it seems that this focus is no longer a priority for the company. As a result, people with disabilities continue to experience difficulty using Twitter on a daily basis.
Twitter has a long history of being an accessible platform, which is why Senator Ed Markey is calling on the new owner to reinstate the accessibility team. The team was disbanded after Twitter bought Oxygen Media, and it’s important that they are brought back so that all users can access the platform equally.
due to the shutdown of Twitter’s Accessibility Team, disabled users have reported increased difficulty and frustration using Twitter.
In spite of its accessibility shortcomings, many disabled users found community on Twitter because its built-in accessibility features made it easier to use than other social platforms.Twitter was one of the first social platforms to introduce alt text on images, automatic captioning on videos, and captions for Spaces live audio rooms and voice tweets. Disabled users could use these features to connect with others who share their disability, learn about new products and services that may be useful to them, and stay up-to-date on current events.
Twitter has long been heralded as a platform that enables users to freely communicate and share information. However, due to the lack of an accessibility team at Twitter, features that are vital for users with disabilities have disappeared. This includes captioning on Twitter Spaces, which was previously the only way disabled users could participate in the conversation. This sends the message that accessibility is no longer part of the conversation at Twitter HQ, and Disabled people feel shut out. Movoto wants to raise awareness about this issue and urge Twitter to invest in an accessible user experience by hiring an accessibility team
With Twitter losing its API and charging third-party developers for access, many users are left out. Apps like Ironfactory’s Twitterrific that gave people with disabilities expanded accessibility features are no longer available, which makes using the platform less accessible for everyone.
Ironfactory’s Gedeon Maheux is worried about the future of Blind users on Twitter. Without third-party clients like Twitterrific, many Blind users would have to stop using the platform altogether.
As a member of the United States Congress, Democrat Edward J. Markey is very interested in Twitter and its impact on politics and society. In a letter sent to CEO Jack Dorsey on March 7, 2018, Markey asks questions about Twitter’s decision to eliminate the accessibility team and its compliance with ADA and FCC accessibility regulations. Another question put to Dorsey is why captioning was removed from Spaces, a new section of the platform designed for discussion among users. The Congressman also requested that Twitter commits to creating user-friendly experiences for all kinds of content on its platform.
The changes by CEO Elon Musk to Tesla Motors, including the announcement that the company will no longer manufacture cars with manual transmission, have been met with outrage from members of the disabled community. The decision signals a disregard for the needs of disabled people who rely on manual transmissions for mobility. This move could prevent many disabled people from being able to own or use a Tesla car and instead force them to use other forms of transportation.