Review: Twitter’s Alter Ego, “Accessible Twitter”

People are spending more and more time on the Internet each day.  Whether you are shopping for the best price on a new appliance, researching the topic for your term paper, or looking for trailers of that new movie, chances are you turn to your computer and search the Internet for answers.  Social media sites have capitalized on this knowledge that people are spending more time online.  Sites like Facebook and Twitter understand that people are rarely writing letters to their friends through the post, just like they are starting to stray away from shopping out of catalogs or reading printed newspapers. How many of these social media sites have taken the initiative to make sure their web sites are accessible to people who use screen reading software on their computers?

I stumbled across Accessible Twitter yesterday, an alternative to the standard Twitter.com, a site that allows people to write short status updates in order to spread information rapidly.  Accessible Twitter was created by Dennis E. Lembree, a web site professional whose personal passion is to create and share the importance of accessible web sites. Dennis has stated on his web site that he’s rebuilt the the popular Twitter web site with web accessibility and web standards.

If you have a Twitter account, you can enter in your username and password on Accessible Twitter just like you would on the standard version.  If not, simply make a Twitter account on Twitter.com.

Here we will evaluate how Twitter.com’s accessibility stands up to the WAVE Toolbar, a Firefox plugin that allows one to detect accessibility errors.  This is an image of what you would see once you log-in to the standard Twitter.com after running the WAVE Toolbar:

Twitter after WAVE Report
Twitter after WAVE Report

And this is an image of what you see when you log-in to Accessible Twitter and run the WAVE Toolbar:

Accessible Twitter after WAVE report
Accessible Twitter after WAVE report

Notice that Accessible Twitter has zero accessibility errors!  What’s more important is that all of the links on the page have been titled.  On standard Twitter, you might see an image that you click on to send a direct message.  Accessible Twitter has linked that image with text, along with all other images on the page, including personal avatars.

The WAVE Toolbar finds no errors on the Accessible Twitter page, while the standard Twitter page has eight accessibility errors.  Many of the links in standard twitter are named but the titles do not make sense to what they are linking to.  Lembree’s site has won accessibility awards while pushing for all major web sites to follow web accessibility standards.  For more information on Accessible Twitter and Lembree’s other projects, visit his web site and his blog, or check out @AccessibleTwitr on Twitter!  And while you’re at it, check us out on Twitter @ESCrossroads!