Rishi Sunak’s government is misusing a key accessibility feature on Twitter

Rishi Sunak’s government is misusing a key accessibility feature on Twitter

Related video: Rishi Sunak ignored by students as he repeatedly asks for questions


You’d think that the Conservative government – and indeed, political parties of all colours – would be committed to the idea of making politics accessible to as many people as possible, but one Twitter post from Rishi Sunak on Wednesday would suggest otherwise.

Sharing an image of his cabinet, split up into four smaller rectangular images, the prime minister wrote: “We are working day-in and day-out to grow the economy.”

Sounds typically tedious, but for anyone needing to access the alt text feature, all four images say the same thing: “We’re growing the economy.”

And that’s not how you write alt text.

For those unfamiliar, alt text is a way in which you can make images more accessible to those who are blind or visually impaired - for example - by describing the key details and information contained in a photo or graphic.

As Twitter’s own Help Center article on writing “great image descriptions” states: “The goal of writing mage descriptions is to be clear and concise, while giving more context to your tweet.

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“It’s important to capture action, movement, relationships, noteworthiness, visual details, and anything unique.

“Note people, pets, things, their names (if relevant), and their relationship to each other. Depending on topic relevance, mention the race, gender, age, etc. of people.”

Obviously, none of this is contained in the simple description of “we’re growing the economy”, and Mr Sunak’s misuse of the feature was described by author Adam Kay as “the worst alt text I’ve ever seen”.

Other Twitter users – including charities representing blind people such as the Royal National Institute for Blind people (RNIB) – have also criticised the government’s approach to the accessibility feature:

The post – shared a day before Global Accessibility Awareness Day on Thursday – follows a string of Twitter accounts posting “click here” images and abusing the alt text tool to make jokes, or share other information not contained in the image:

Thankfully, Specsavers were on hand to explain to other brands why this isn’t OK:

And if you thought the UK government’s latest accessibility failure was a one-off, Number 10 continues to not provide an in-person British Sign Language (BSL) interpreter for its televised press conferences, with Labour MP Vicky Foxcroft signing a question about the issue during Prime Minister’s Questions back in 2021.

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