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Application Opens Up Twitter To Disabled Users

Keyboard-accessible links, audio cues and simplified layouts are some of the features present in ‘Accessible Twitter’, a new application under development to make the popular microblogging service more accessible to disabled users.

Users sign in to the application
( )
with their regular Twitter username and password and are then presented with a tweaked version of the service with improved usability and accessible alternatives to many features.

These include headings and page titles which are designed to work with screen-readers; a large default text size and high colour contrast for easy viewing; and audio cues to alert the user when the character limit of 140 is almost reached when writing a ‘tweet’.

The application’s creator, US-based web developer and accessibility advocate Dennis Lembree, told E-Access Bulletin he hopes Twitter will eventually incorporate the accessibility features he has highlighted in his work. He is not optimistic this will happen in the near future, however. “I think very gradually [Twitter] may improve, but not [through] anything significant soon. Twitter is happy with other companies and developers using the API [application programming interface] and creating a wide variety of applications.”

Lembree said that disabled users of technology were “almost always” overlooked by developers.

Though still in the ‘alpha’ development stage, Accessible Twitter is currently available for anyone to use and is supported by all major internet browsers. The ‘beta’ version of the application will include more of Twitter’s features which have been adapted to increase their accessibility, including “Open Authentication, uploading photos, and better error handling”, said Lembree.


  1. lucas | August 19th, 2009 | 8:14 am

    I am using twitter since 2 months ago. My first impression of the
    service was interesting, and I didn’t find anything so inaccessible.
    When I saw the accessibletwitter i was curious to sse what they changed
    in this version, and when I tryed it, it was uncomfortable. The fact is:
    when you open your twitter page, what you wanna see is your friends’
    updates, and just it. There’s just it to do on twitter.
    sometimes, you have a lot of tweets to read, so, a good interface is all
    you want to helps you in this case. On twitter, the first link will show
    you the name of the person, the second link will show you the account
    of the person (it’s important to you send them direct messages, when you
    put a @ then their nicks/account, and then your message), and then,
    finally, their tweets. The accessible twitter turned this simple thing
    in a strange apresentation of the message. All the tweets are marked
    with a block quot, making you slow in the time you are reading the
    tweets. The information where on twitter were organized in one line to
    show you the hour when this tweets was posted, where the person was
    posting it : like web, twitterfox(a addon for firefox to you make your
    tweets), etc, are separated in a lot of lines, making, again, you slowly
    in the time you are reading your tweets.
    For me, I like the original twitter, and I will keep using that.

  2. Accessible Twitter | August 26th, 2009 | 6:46 pm

    My response to Lucas’ comment:

    -Accessible Twitter fixes these issues (and more) in the navigation is inconsistent, doesn’t display username of account signed in, the Favorite and Reply links are STILL not keyboard accessible, JavaScript is required, doesn’t work in Lynx browser, may be illegible due to custom colors, code is not standards-compliant, etc.

    -Tweets are marked up as blockquotes because they are blockquotes; this is proper semantic coding. The rendering of that code is up to the user-agent (browser).

    -There more to do on Twitter than just post and read tweets; for example, Accessible Twitter provides a Trends page, a Popular Links page, and previews for images linked in tweets.

  3. Jake | June 7th, 2011 | 8:12 pm

    I use Accessible Twitter–now renamed Easy Chirp–all the time at my volunteer job and love it. It is 100% accessible with System Access, which is a screen reader I use. In addition, I’ve tested Easy Chirp briefly with Non-Visual Desktop Access and it seems to work pretty well. Kudos to Dennis for doing a great job.

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