dai11y 21/10/2022

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Two new bots can help newsrooms prioritize accessibility and alt text

An interview with Patrick Garvin, former worker of Boston Globe.

Patrick noticed that a lot of newsrooms tended to omit alt text on their social media, excluding a lot of people from reading that content. So he built an @AltAwareness Twitter bot, which listens for tweets that contain journalism-related hashtags and, essentially, calls them out when they include images but no alt text.

He was inspired by an earlier bot by Matt Eason, which performs a similar service for people who use the #accessibility hashtag but fail to provide alt text. He’s also built a similar one that scans tweets from the UK government.

Patrick found that his bot would get blocked a lot, and not have the effect he was hoping. So he built an @A11yAwareness bot which is more advisory in tone. “It doesn’t retweet anyone, it doesn’t call anyone out” – it tells people “Here is stuff that you might not know”. This has had a much more effective response from people who had been tweeting inaccessibly.

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