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To make Twitter a better place for visually impaired: please do without those fancy Unicode letters in your account and messages – Global Accessibility Awareness Day 2022 – #a11y

Posted by jpluimers on 2022/05/19

Today is Global Accessibility Awareness Day, so it is a good day to write about a Twitter bot that tries to coerce people in having more accessible Twitter names and messages.

I knew I made a bookmark of [Wayback/Archive] Jacques Favreau on Twitter: “@Conundrum9999 @asciiArtHelpBot will make a little video of reading these things if anybody wants to try it out on a tweet.”

But when searching for it earlier this month, I could not find it (see below how in the end I did find it back).

The tweet was part of a thread that started with this tweet which very well describes why you should refrain from using fancy characters in Tweets or Twitter names:

[Wayback/Archive] Katie Mixtochtli – read my pinned – use alt text on Twitter: “Why you should avoid symbols and nonstandard letters in your twitter name if you want to be screen reader friendly: #DisabilityTwitter #disabilityinclusion Read on to see how “𝕁𝕒𝕞𝕖𝕤 – ʷʰᵉʳᵉ ⁱˢ ᵗʰᵉ ᵖʳᵒᵗᵉˢᵗ – ℂ𝕣𝕠𝕩𝕥𝕠𝕟 liked your reply” sounds to me 👇🏼”

The thread contains the long text you get when a screen reader reads that tweet. A video of that is below, and I saved the thread at [Wayback/Archive] Thread by @Conundrum9999 on Thread Reader App:

Why you should avoid symbols and nonstandard letters in your twitter name if you want to be screen reader friendly: #DisabilityTwitter #disabilityinclusion
Read on to see how
“𝕁𝕒𝕞𝕖𝕤 – ʷʰᵉʳᵉ ⁱˢ ᵗʰᵉ ᵖʳᵒᵗᵉˢᵗ – ℂ𝕣𝕠𝕩𝕥𝕠𝕟 liked your reply”
sounds to me 👇🏼

nonnegative(whole)numbers letter1d552 letter1d55e letter1d556 letter1d564 – superscript w aspirated letter1d49 superscript r letter1d49 superscript i superscript s letter1d57 aspirated letter1d49 letter1d56 superscript r letter1d52 letter1d57 letter1d49 superscript s letter1d57 –

CAP ComplexNumbers letter1d53 letter1d560 letter1d569 letter1d565 letter1d560 liked your reply

… just transcribing that needed two tweets.I have to listen to that, every time. Just to get to the last 3 words “liked your reply”.I can’t skim over it with my ears.

This isn’t a call out at whoever has that display name. 60% of people I interact with are at least half as bad.

I’m not going to pay attention to your tweets if your name needs two tweets to transcribe. That’s 20 seconds of pausing, for each of 10 likes in a row.

Since I have no clue what it says in sightling, my apologies if it’s someone’s name or something offensive. LOL

While you’re here — give this a read and a retweet 👇🏼

Also do not overly use emojis, as these too take a lot of time for a screen reader to read:

[Wayback/Archive] Katie Mixtochtli – read my pinned – use alt text on Twitter: “@romulinotv Emojis do read and make sense, but they add a lot of words. Example 😷 is “face with medical mask” So the one symbol adds four whole words. Many people have 7 or 8 emojis. Don’t go overboard and you’re fine.

asciiArtHelpBot behaviour

The [Wayback/Archive] Please don’t use text art… (@asciiArtHelpBot) / Twitter only responds when there enough “strange” fancy characters to work with (in order for it not to be abused nor to appear as SPAM). The author explained this better on Twitter:

The result of the tweet from Katie was this (click on the Tweet to watch the video):

[Wayback/Archive] Please don’t use text art… on Twitter: “@betaorbust @Conundrum9999 Thanks, @betaorbust! Hey @Conundrum9999, Art text is extremely hard on screen reader users. You can hear how rough it is: this video is your tweet being read. Next time, a screencap of your creation (with alt text) will mean everybody can enjoy it! “

A result on one of my own Tweets is this:

All video sizes are below the signature. Click on the Wayback link when they do not work in this blog post (WordPress sometimes has it’s own interpretation of “working fine with embedded video”).

How I found asciiArtHelpBot  back

The bot does not cover this case: [Wayback/Archive] complex case on Twitter: “Bot that @s people with random unicode in their usernames with a generated audio clip of what that reads as to a screen reader”

–jeroen


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