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The NHL claims hockey is for everyone, but there is still work to be done. One of the many ways the NHL continues to fall short is with social media accessibility. This issue is most prominent on Twitter, which has built-in tools for alt text and captions. T
To look at the issue across the NHL, Hockey of Tomorrow conducted surveys to determine how much each team uses these features.
For screen-reader users, alternative “alt” text is the difference between accessing content and being shut out. Alt text is text included with an image that conveys its contents. It is meant to be short while describing everything in the image.
This text is read aloud by screen readers so users can access the content. It is a quick and easy-to-use tool that is extremely important, especially for those who are blind, low vision, limited vision, or partially sighted.
Twitter makes it easy for users to add this to all their images, with a prompt appearing in the bottom left corner of an attached image when users draft tweets. Despite this, many NHL teams choose not to use it or only do so infrequently. Below is a survey of each NHL Eastern Conference team’s use of alt text on Twitter over a two-week span.
This survey does not account for whether or not the tool was used correctly, only if there was an attempt to use it.
On average, Eastern Conference NHL teams used alt text 22% of the time during the two-week span examined in March 2023, while nine teams never used the tool.
Of the teams who used alt text, only the Hurricanes and Washington Capitals used it on regular images and infographics (such as score updates). The rest only used alt text on sporadic images. Integration of alt text to infographics is a particularly simple task, as users only need to copy and paste the graphic information into the alt text box. Despite the ease of use, most Eastern Conference social media managers are not integrating alt text to open up their content to more users.
Only the Carolina Hurricanes and Washington Capitals were good at using alt text. There were still some images without text, but they were exceptions to the rule. It is still not ok and alt text is not something that should be forgotten. Tweets should be deleted and re-done when that is discovered. However, when compared to other teams, it is a welcome discovery that missing alt text was unusual instead of the opposite.
There is little excuse not to include alt text for images on Twitter. For infographics, it is as simple as cutting and pasting the information you put into the graphic into the prompt on the platform.
For other images, it takes little time to write a brief description of them. Those few extra moments allow all hockey fans, specifically those who are blind, low vision, limited vision, or partially sighted, equal access to image content.
This is one of the easiest ways to include more people in the hockey community and something NHL teams need to fix if they want hockey to be for everyone.