Senator Markey calls on Elon Musk to reinstate Twitter’s accessibility crew

After a number of rounds of layoffs, Twitter’s employees is down from about 7,500 staff to lower than 2,000 — and one of many quite a few cuts throughout the corporate eradicated the platform’s total accessibility crew final yr.

In an open letter to Elon Musk, Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) known as on the brand new Twitter proprietor to convey the accessibility crew again.

“Not surprisingly, because you shut down Twitter’s Accessibility Workforce, disabled customers have reported elevated problem and frustration utilizing Twitter,” Markey wrote.

Like every social platform, Twitter has had its foibles in terms of accessibility — in 2020, Twitter didn’t even have an accessibility crew and solely established one after public outcry when the corporate rolled out voice tweets with out captions. However within the few years Twitter did have an accessibility crew, the corporate rolled out options for alt textual content on photographs, automated captioning on movies, and captions for Areas stay audio rooms and voice tweets. Many disabled customers discovered group on Twitter, as a result of its built-in accessibility options made it simpler to make use of than different social platforms.

With no accessibility crew at Twitter anymore, it’s not as if the platform’s options have merely remained dormant. Captions on Twitter Areas have disappeared altogether, making the function unusable for any person who’s Deaf or onerous of listening to. To disabled customers, this sends the message that accessibility is not a part of the dialog at Twitter HQ (which, by the way in which, the corporate has stopped paying hire for).

Twitter’s accessibility was dealt one other blow when the platform reduce off entry to its API. Now, third-party builders must pay yet-to-be-determined month-to-month charges to construct on a platform that beforehand welcomed them at no cost. Which means long-beloved apps like Ironfactory’s Twitterrific, which gave customers expanded accessibility options, are not accessible.

“I acquired various emails from Blind customers who had been upset and outraged as a result of they’d most definitely must cease utilizing Twitter with out accessible third-party purchasers like Twitterrific,” Ironfactory co-founder Gedeon Maheux informed Forbes.

Markey’s letter poses numerous inquiries to Musk, to which Markey requested responses by March 17. Markey asks about why Musk eradicated the accessibility crew and if he’ll reinstate it, Twitter’s compliance with ADA and FCC accessibility laws, why Twitter eliminated captioning from Areas, and if the platform will decide to creating user-friendly experiences for all types of content material.

“All of those modifications below your management sign a disregard for the wants of disabled individuals,” Markey wrote to Musk.

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