After teasing its new font in January, Twitter made some main modifications to its web site and app design this week. However whereas Twitter framed these updates as making the platform “extra accessible,” some accessibility specialists say that these modifications missed the mark.
Most noticeably, tweets now seem in “Chirp,” Twitter’s proprietary typeface, and the show has much more visible distinction between the background and textual content. Different updates made the interface much less cluttered, eradicating pointless divider traces. For individuals with low imaginative and prescient, high-contrast design could make web sites extra legible, however the present distinction degree is so excessive that it’s inflicting pressure for some customers. Twitter far exceeds the minimal distinction requirements set by the Internet Content material Accessibility Pointers (WCAG), which supplies suggestions for making web sites accessible to disabled individuals. However internet accessibility isn’t one-size matches all — whereas some customers may have a high-contrast show, others that suffer from continual migraines would possibly require a extra muted expertise. Analysis has additionally proven that dyslexic individuals are inclined to learn quicker when introduced with lower-contrast textual content.
“When the replace hit, I may instantly really feel ache in my eyes, and inside about half an hour, I used to be having a rigidity headache,” mentioned Alex Haagaard, a design researcher and founding member at The Disabled Listing. “I’ve lots of continual ache, and I can’t intentionally expose myself to one thing that’s going to be exacerbating my ranges of ache, as a result of then that has cascade results.”
Up till final 12 months, Twitter’s accessibility staff was volunteer-based — paid staff at Twitter would tackle accessibility tasks on high of their current jobs, TechCrunch reported. In September, a couple of months after Twitter had launched an audio tweet characteristic with out accessibility issues, Twitter launched two devoted accessibility groups inside its firm. However specialists emphasize that together with disabled individuals in design selections from the get-go is critical when implementing new options.
“They talked a superb speak about how they had been going to vary this, that they had been going to combine accessibility and disabled views extra into their design processes, and from this, it appears they haven’t completed an sufficient job with that,” mentioned Haagaard. “Partaking individuals from disabled communities as consultants on the high-level levels, throughout the analysis and conceptualization section, would forestall designers from getting to a degree the place you’re testing one thing and also you notice it’s essentially problematic and it’s too late.”
Twitter informed TechCrunch that “suggestions was sought from individuals with disabilities all through the method, from the start. Nevertheless, individuals have completely different preferences and wishes and we are going to proceed to trace suggestions and refine the expertise. We notice we may get extra suggestions sooner or later and we’ll work to try this.”
On its accessibility account Twitter, acknowledged the issues that customers had been reporting with eye-strain and migraines after the replace. This afternoon, the platform added that because of person suggestions, it’s making distinction modifications on all buttons to make them “simpler on the eyes.”
“When a design group makes an announcement, and the accessibility group alongside it really has issues to say about it, meaning they work collectively, and that’s all the time a superb factor,” mentioned Matt Might, head of Inclusive Design at Adobe. “The important thing factor is to proceed to pay attention and discover the individuals who aren’t being represented, and attempt to synthesize them inside the remainder of the system.”
It’s odd that Twitter uncared for so as to add customization capabilities when it rolled out its higher-contrast show and new default typeface, because the firm has a historical past of providing customization elsewhere in its person expertise. At the moment, customers can toggle amongst darkish, gentle and dim modes, make their default font dimension larger or smaller, and even change the look of buttons and hyperlinks to colours like purple, orange and pink. Even earlier than this week’s replace, Twitter’s accessibility panel allowed customers to allow a better distinction mode. However nonetheless, there isn’t a means for customers to cut back the distinction or change what font the positioning makes use of, which specialists cite as a design flaw. With its first proprietary typeface Chirp, Twitter sought to “enhance how we convey emotion,” however customers reported the font to be harder to learn than Helvetica, which Twitter used earlier than Chirp.
In response to Shawn Lawton Henry — a researcher on the Massachusetts Institute of Expertise, editor of the WCAG suggestions, and chief of the World Extensive Internet Consortium’s accessibility schooling and outreach — web sites ought to embody customization choices for customers to toggle amongst fonts, distinction ranges and extra. WCAG doesn’t require this at the moment, however Henry says that future updates of the rules will suggest that web sites give customers the choice to vary distinction.
“The primary challenge is that the default distinction ought to [meet the WCAG standards] and customers ought to have the ability to change it. It’s not exhausting, proper?” Henry mentioned. “It’s nice to have a default font, however it’s a must to make it customizable. Even when it was essentially the most readable font identified, it will nonetheless be vital to permit individuals to vary it due to particular person variations.”
When requested about including methods for customers to vary typefaces and distinction ranges, a Twitter spokesperson mentioned that the corporate had “no concrete plans to share proper now, however we’re all the time taking a look at methods to enhance the expertise and listening to suggestions.”
“I feel a part of the frustration right here is that they’re framing this as an accessibility factor, nevertheless it’s additionally actually clear that it was equally about constructing model identification,” Haagaard mentioned.
Whereas some customers will override web site settings with USS (Consumer Fashion Sheets), Henry’s analysis for the World Extensive Internet Consortium confirmed that person brokers like internet browsers and e-book readers ought to present customers the skill to customise these settings extra simply. Not all customers are tech-savvy sufficient to jot down USS, and it’s simpler for customers to toggle among the many accessibility settings particular to an app. This degree of customization isn’t unprecedented — in June, Discord added a saturation slider in its accessibility settings, for instance.
“The fantastic thing about the online is that it’s not paper, and we will change it,” Henry mentioned.