Skip to main content

alt text to make science Twitter more accessible

alt text to make science Twitter more accessible

  • Date27 November 2020

Domenico Chiarella

New research published in the journal Nature Communications highlight limitations faced by people with visual impairment when dealing with images posted on social media. Twitter has become the social media platform most commonly used by academics to share research and rapidly discuss scientific analysis between themselves, as well as with the general public around the globe. However, posting images and photos could potentially exclude people with visual impairments. In this contribution, Authors outline actions that should be taken to foster accessibility and inclusion in posting scientific images on social media. In particular, the use of alternative text (also known as alt text), a feature now offered on many social media platforms, can provide a more inclusive experience for people with visual impairments. This practice allows users to add a text-based alternative (usually a description) to non-textual content such as photos, GIFs and graphical data.

On the left, a giant hole in the ground at the top of the Nyiragongo volcano (Democratic Republic of Congo) containing a black lava lake that is approximately 200 metres in diameter. There are whitish gas plumes rising from holes in the semi-solid surface of the lake. The holes are glowing orange. There are six tents only a few hundreds of metres away from the lava lake. On the right, Vero CCL-81 cells used in a fluorescence-based assay designed to measure neutralisation of a reporter SARS-CoV-2 by antibodies from patient specimens. After reporter viral infection, the cells turned green in the absence of serum (top panel). In contrast, incubation of the reporter virus with COVID-19 patient serum decreased the number of fluorescent cells (bottom panel). Scale bar, 100 μm. On the bottom, selfie taken by the NASA’s Curiosity rover on the 11th October 2019 in the Glen Etive location (Gale Crater, Mars) showing the rover and two holes “Glen Etive 1” and “Glen Etive 2” drilled alongside it (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech).

Nature Communications article

Explore Royal Holloway

Get help paying for your studies at Royal Holloway through a range of scholarships and bursaries.

There are lots of exciting ways to get involved at Royal Holloway. Discover new interests and enjoy existing ones

Heading to university is exciting. Finding the right place to live will get you off to a good start

Whether you need support with your health or practical advice on budgeting or finding part-time work, we can help

Discover more about our 21 departments and schools

Find out why Royal Holloway is in the top 25% of UK universities for research rated ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’

They say the two most important days of your life are the day you were born, and the day you find out why

Discover world-class research at Royal Holloway

Discover more about who we are today, and our vision for the future

Royal Holloway began as two pioneering colleges for the education of women in the 19th century, and their spirit lives on today

We’ve played a role in thousands of careers, some of them particularly remarkable

Find about our decision-making processes and the people who lead and manage Royal Holloway today