Twitter Image Descriptions (Video Transcript)

Twitter Image Descriptions


This video demonstrates how to activate and use image descriptions on Twitter, from the mobile and desktop sites. These are very important for visually impaired people, as it enables them to understand, enjoy and interact with your content more fully.

More detailed instructions can be found on Twitter’s help page.

I also recommend these videos explaining the importance of image descriptions:

Annie Elainey – Why Do People Use Image Descriptions?

James Rath – Why Do I Write Image Descriptions? How The Blind Sees Images!

You can find me on social media at my blogmy Twitter and my Instagram. Thanks for watching! 🙂


Hi everybody. For this video I wanted to give a quick demonstration of how to enable image descriptions on Twitter. These are things that regular users of Twitter won’t be aware of or notice. But, for visually impaired people, having these extra descriptions are really, really useful, because their screen reader programs will speak the description of the image back to them then.

Because at the moment, if you don’t have them turned on and you post an image, this is all you get. This is all the screen reader says to you:

[Synthesised Speech] Image

[Me] But if you do have image descriptions turned on, then when you ask your phone or your computer to read a tweet to you, it will speak your description of the image, like this:

[Speech] Image. Large pancake topped with smoked bacon, chicken, ham, sweet pepper, mushrooms, sweetcorn and cheese.

[Speech] Image. HMS Belfast and Tower Bridge, viewed from the South Bank of the River Thames.

[Speech] Image. Siri’s reply. The Arsenal, Norwich City match ended with the score tied, one dash zero.

[Me] So you can see it makes a huge difference, because it explains to the visually impaired person what’s going on in your image. Which means they can understand and enjoy and interact with your tweets much more easily. Which makes them much more likely to follow you and become a fan of yours, because they feel included, and it your content feel a lot more accessible.

It’s very easy to turn on, but a lot of people don’t know it’s there, and don’t think of looking for these kind of things. Which is understandable, because for a long time it wasn’t an option on Twitter in the first place.

But it is very easy to enable. I’m gonna show you how to do it on an iPhone, but Android will be very similarl to this.

If you go to your profile on Twitter and click on the gear icon to bring up your menu of various options, and then click on Settings. And then under General at the bottom you’ve got an option for Display and Sound. And in there is an option for Accessibility. And in among the options there, at the very bottom, is Compose Image Descriptions. And below that is a link to learn more about it, so you can see the instructions there as well.

So if you just enable that by turning it on, as I’ve done here. And then when you go to compose a tweet, if you just insert a photo as normal. I’ll take a photo of the screen there just for illustration purposes. And then you’ll see at the very bottom you’ve got an option to Add Description. If you click on that, you then get another text box, and you can describe the image in whatever way you like.

You get 420 characters to do this, according to the help pages. So you’ve got quite a bit of space, more than a normal tweet, to describe the image. How much or how little detail you give depends on what’s in the image. If there’s text in the image, then try and recreate the text. If there’s people, what are they doing? If there’s scenery, what sort of scenery is there?

Just use your judgement, experiment with it a bit. It might take a little bit of getting used to if you’ve never done these kind of descriptions before. But yeah, just type something in there and  just click Apply, and it will apply the description, and job done. You can compose the rest of your tweet as normal, and post it just as you normally would.

As I say, that description won’t show up to regular users, they won’t see it. But for anyone using screen readers, it will be accessible.

And on the desktop site it’s very easy as well. If you go to your profile picture at the very top right on the menu bar, click on that and pick Settings and Privacy from the menu. And then on all the options on the left hand side, go down to the bottom,  to Accessibility. Again you’ll see a tick box there for Compose Image Descriptions, again with a link to learn more with further instructions as well. So again enable that, and click Save Changes.

And then when you go to compose a tweet, you can pick a photo. And when you’ve added an image to your tweet, you’ll see at the bottom again there’s an option to add a description. So just click on that, and it will give you a text box again to type your description in. So for this image I would probably say that it’s the Accessibility menu on the iPhone, with options such as VoiceOver, Zoom, Invert Colours, Greyscale, Speech, Larger Text, Bold Text and Button Shapes, because that’s what you can see on the screen there.

And it’s as simple as that really. It’s very well worth doing, it’s very to activate. And it’s brilliant that Twitter have added the feature. It’s just a shame that it’s not publicised perhaps as widely as it could or should be. But once you do realise it’s there and you start using it, then it’s a great habit to get into. And visually impaired people using screen readers will thank you for it.

And I thank you for watching this video. I hope you find it useful, it gave you extra advice for engaging with your followers. Perhaps it’s a feature you didn’t know about before. So yeah, give it a go, I hope you enjoy using it. And I’ll see you again for another video soon. Bye.

Author: Glen

Vsually impaired, with Aniridia & Nystagmus. I'm a fan of Doctor Who, classic sitcoms, Queen and 60s-80s rock & pop. I like to blog about my experiences as a disabled person, and about the things I enjoy in general.

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