Company

Making Spaces accessible

By Amber James

Serving the public conversation means continuously taking steps to make Twitter more accessible for people with disabilities – from what we build, to the programs and policies we implement globally – both within the company and on our service. We’re committed to ensuring our service is accessible to everyone – that's why we created two teams to focus on accessibility last year

Today, I want to talk about Spaces, our live audio conversation feature on Twitter. We’re progressively rolling Spaces out to more people, and we want to share where we are on our journey to make this feature more accessible.

Let’s talk about accessibility in Spaces 

The Spaces team has been working in the open, in full view of the world, since December 2020. The ongoing conversation around Spaces accessibility both internally and on Twitter has helped us identify and address accessibility gaps in the product. By working in the open, we’re showing you our ideas, our works in progress, and areas for improvement. Twitter is becoming a more accessible company and product in real-time.

What’s accessible 

Captions 

Folks who are deaf, hard of hearing (HoH), or prefer the support of captioning for audio, will be able to turn on captions and follow along with conversations.

Labels 

Every element in Spaces has an accessible label, so people using assistive technology will know what every button does, and what actions are available.

What needs work 

Work on captions 

Captions are incredibly important for Spaces, so we’re going to make them as accurate and versatile as possible. Here are some of the things we’ll be working on first:

  • Improve accuracy and synchronization of captions with audio
  • Provide scrollback and enable pausing
  • Improve support for multiple speakers speaking synchronously
  • Customization of captions appearance (e.g., font color, size, background, etc.)
  • Remove the requirement for the Speaker to enable captions on iOS. (They’re automatic on Android because of the difference in caption service provider.)
  • Explore ways to improve automatic captioning algorithm and minimize inaccuracies
  • Explore options for increased language support

Work in other areas 

  • Match accessibility system settings (larger fonts, display, etc.)
  • Present emoji reactions via assistive technologies
  • Explore options for multi-modal participation beyond speech, such as text input mode

    We're not done 

     

    As James Loduca, our Senior Director of Global Inclusion and Diversity, has said, “We’re on a journey, and we’re closer to the beginning than we are to the end.” Our teams are working hard to make Twitter more accessible, and we have a long way to go. We’re learning as we build, and we’re committed to getting better. Continue to ask questions and hold us accountable. This will help us grow in service to the public conversation that includes everyone.

    We’ll Tweet accessibility happenings at @TwitterA11y, follow along with the Spaces team at @TwitterSpaces, and you can learn about upcoming Spaces features in this blog post.

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Amber James

‎@AmberAntoi‎

Lead Content Strategy Manager

Only on Twitter