Hockey of Tomorrow Accessibility Series: NHL Western Conference Teams' Use of Alt Text on Twitter

11:00 AM EST
06.13.2023
5
min - read
Lydia Murray
11:00 AM EST
06.13.2023
5
min - read

Surveying NHL Western CONFERENCE Team's Use of Alt Text‍

Introduction

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. 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 Western 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.

Analysis

Western Conference teams are, on average, better than the Eastern Conference at using alt text, but there is still significant room for improvement. During the sample period in March 2023, Western Conference teams used alt text 42% of the time.

The Dallas Stars were the best, using alt text on 99% of their tweets with images, while six teams never used the tool.

The biggest reason for the difference between the Eastern and Western Conferences was the teams’ use of the tool on infographics. Six Western Conference teams used alt text on most of their infographics compared to just two Eastern Conference teams. However, six teams using it on infographics consistently is still a long way from 16. Infographics are particularly easy to caption since the information can be copied and pasted from the graphic.

Conclusion

The Dallas Stars, Edmonton Oilers, and Seattle Kraken all used alt text at least 90% of the time, so it is fair to say they are good about it.

Tweets should be deleted and re-done when that is discovered. However, it is a pleasant surprise when missing alt text is the exception and not the rule. That being said, it should not be this way. Instead, teams using it consistently should be the expectation, and it should be flagged as a problem when it is missing. People should not have to beg for equal access to the content and then celebrate when they get scraps.

There is little excuse not to include alt text for images on Twitter.

The few extra moments it may take to include it, allow all hockey fans, regardless of vision level, 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.

Image description: A graphic of blue and white bar graphs titled “NHL Western Conference Teams’ Use of Alt Text on Twitter- 3/1-3/15.” There are 16 blue and white bars, each representing an NHL Western Conference team. Half the graphs are on the left and the other half are on the right. The percentage of alt text used is on the left of each graph, while the team name is on the right. The left half reads 7% Anaheim Ducks, 17% Arizona Coyotes, 89% Calgary Flames, 0% Chicago Blackhawks, 67% Colorado Avalanche, 99% Dallas Stars, 91% Edmonton Oilers, and 0% Los Angeles Kings. The right half reads 73% Minnesota Wild, 54% Nashville Predators, 75% San Jose Sharks, 97% Seattle Kraken, 0% St. Louis Blues, 0% Vancouver Canucks, 0% Vegas Golden Knights, and 0% Winnipeg Jets.

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