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Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Accessibility Q3 2022: Accessibility

By
Tuesday, 11 October 2022

As the seasons begin to change around the world, we’ve been reflecting a lot on our Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility (IDEA) journey at Twitter. The wins, the learning moments, and the opportunities still to come. Despite the hurdles — and there have been plenty — you won’t find a company or group of employees more committed to this work. One of the things that makes this place so special is that it’s made up of individuals who show up each day with one powerful thing in common: the belief that we get to do great things with great people. We care deeply –– about Twitter, and about each other. It’s what fuels the work, and it’s what drives us toward becoming the world’s most inclusive, diverse, equitable, and accessible tech company. And that’s never changing.

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In fact, we remain more committed than ever. This quarter was a testament. As progress towards our diversity goals slows, it can be dispiriting. But not at Twitter. We recognize that this work isn’t a moment in time; it's a continuous, conscious effort that requires us to be unwavering toward our goal. Come what may, we’re firm in where we’re going. Sometimes, that just means being flexible with our route.

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So we flexed. We doubled down in areas that drive inclusion and where we knew we’d have immediate impact for our Tweeps. We built a framework for belonging, zoomed in on our equity work, and supercharged our accessibility efforts. And today, we’re proud to share more about our accessibility journey. Ultimately, accessibility is what empowers everyone to use their unique strengths and knowledge to do their best work, and its cornerstone in building the Twitter — both the product and the workplace — that we love.

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Let’s take a look…

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Forming our Accessibility Center of Excellence

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We recognized early on that having a centralized source of expertise was vital in moving towards a fully accessible Twitter. In February 2021, we established our Accessibility Center of Excellence (COE) with Gurpreet Kaur, Head of Global Accessibility, at its helm. The Accessibility COE’s impact was immediate and widespread; working with partners across the business, they set clear goals, developed policies, and worked to improve the way people experience Twitter – in real life as Tweeps and on our service. Early wins included launch of new standards for accessible meetings and events, introduction of an internal accessibility hub to share best practices and resources with Tweeps eager to lean in, and a new process to evaluate accessibility for third party suppliers.

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In 2022, we formally made accessibility part of our Inclusion & Diversity team, expanding our scope — and the opportunity for impact. From product development to marketing and communication strategies, to legal and people standards, we’ve made significant strides and are excited by the work we’ve accomplished so far. But we’ve only just begun to scratch the surface and there’s much more to do.

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Improving the way we work — a Global Accessibility Policy

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This work is global. Solving for the needs of Tweeps and the people who use our service anywhere and everywhere is how we’ll make Twitter truly accessible. With this in mind, our accessibility team kicked off work on a new Global Accessibility Policy in the first half of the year, designed to support our IDEA goals and improve our company in a way that hadn’t been done before.

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The Global Accessibility Policy serves as a framework to ensure that we consistently participate in, influence, and deliver accessible experiences and products to everyone around the world. It will ensure that any net-new product and internal tool launches or purchases prioritize accessibility for Tweeps or customers with disabilities.

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Here’s how:

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  • At Twitter: The policy facilitates accessible and inclusive working experiences for all Tweeps with disabilities. These virtual and in-person experiences include recruitment, onboarding, meetings, career development tools, training, in our offices and more.
  • On Twitter: The planned policies will facilitate making our products, services, and communications (Tweets, marketing campaigns, etc.) accessible to people who use our service.
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Commitment and action are critical to advancing this policy. This year, our Accessibility COE piloted the policy with three key organizations: Information Technology & Core Applications (IT), People & People Systems, and Procurement. Additionally, work on a Product policy is currently underway. Taking our Global Policy further, these org-specific policies are tailored for application and relevance:

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  • IT & Core Tech: Establish tools and processes to support accessible development, including design systems, manual testing, and automated testing.
  • People: Ensure that working experiences (from home, from office, or both) are built so that they are inclusive to people with disabilities. Tweep experiences (benefits, compensation, recruitment) are inclusive to people with disabilities.
  • Procurement: Ensure that all net-new purchases of software that impacts all Tweeps and/or Customers are accessible to people with disabilities.
  • Product: Integrate accessibility best practices into every phase of the product development process and meet the latest published version of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.
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We’re also proud to support Procure Access, a global cross-industry effort to grow the number of companies with accessible procurement programs. We’ve signed the Procure Access statement as a step to advance technology accessibility in our company and throughout the world.

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Through our internal and external partnerships, training programs, and best practices documentation, the Global Accessibility Policy will weave accessibility throughout our core business functions to increase efficiency and impact, without loss of velocity.

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Continuing to learn — accessibility-focused courses

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We’ve said it before: this work takes all of us. No individual or team can carry us forward alone, and we know that our new Accessibility Policy will be most successful when supported by the understanding of both the “why” and the “how” behind accessibility and disability inclusion at Twitter.

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We built three foundational accessibility courses for Tweeps, pulling in best practices and the latest research from our partners at Disability:IN and Business Disability Forum. This is intentionally “101” content to help broaden and expand awareness and understanding. To keep us accountable, the learnings are embedded in the roadmaps and goals of leaders across the business.  

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  • Foundations of Accessibility: People come from different backgrounds and a variety of experiences and abilities. Accessibility is about removing barriers so everyone has fair and equal access. Take this course to broaden your perspective and understanding of the different ways and adaptations people may make for accessibility.
  • Disability Awareness: There’s no guidebook that tells us how to interact with people who have disabilities. But, this course is for anyone — with or without a disability — who wants to learn basics on how to connect more effectively with people who have disabilities. So, come with us on this journey to explore how to be more aware, more empathetic, and more inclusive.
  • Positive Communication: Get a 101 on positive language, which is crucial in inclusive communication. Plus, hear first-hand experiences from Tweeps who have disabilities. Let's continue our journey to be more intentional and build an accessible foundation for all.
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And because we believe in sharing, these courses have been added to our #UntilWeAllBelong toolkit, available to everyone outside of Twitter too. Take a look, and join in on the journey. 

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Driving accessibility on our service

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Leading with accessibility makes Twitter better. When we build for disability inclusion, we build for us all. The Accessibility Experience team works with the engineering, product, design, and research teams for Twitter.com and our mobile application development. They ship accessibility features while providing internal training. They also partner with our various Product teams to improve the accessibility of Twitter.

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Since doubling down on our accessibility journey, we’ve made key updates on our service. Take our public ALT (alternative text) badge and exposed image descriptions, for example. We’ve incorporated feedback and globally launched this feature to support people who are blind, have low vision, use assistive technology, live in low-bandwidth areas, or simply want more context. In September, we also launched the ALT text image description reminder so that everyone can take part. You can read more here in our how to write great image descriptions guide.

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It’s our mission to give everyone the power to create and share ideas and information instantly without barriers, including people with disabilities/Disabled people. For the latest, follow @TwitterA11y and read more about our Accessibility features of Twitter.

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All of us, together.

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Our journey continues. Building the Twitter we all love takes a collective effort because inclusion, equity, diversity, and accessibility don’t happen in vacuums. It’s why we don’t do this work in private or in silos. It’s why, when we started our accessibility work, we created avenues for all Tweeps to lean in — and learn.

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Along with our progress, we’re proud to share that Twitter was recognized as one of the “Best Places to Work for Disability Inclusion” for the second year in a row, receiving a top score on the Disability Equality Index.

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People come to work at Twitter because they care. They care about the people and they care about the product. So whether you’re writing code, working on a marketing campaign, planning an event, designing a product feature, or hiring a candidate, you’re part of the work. Every Tweep is empowered to leverage available resources and be part of what makes us better. And the work won’t stop, #UntilWeAllBelong.

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