When I wrote about alternative text for images in Buffer and Hootsuite in November 2016, I shared good news about Buffer’s plans to move forward.
As well as not-so-good news about Hootsuite and their lack of any plan.
If you recall, the reason for my post was Twitter’s March 2016 announcement that they now supported alternative text for images.
Like many other Twitter users, I was thrilled. And shared my excitement with my post, 15 things I discovered about Twitter’s alternative text.
So what’s the latest news about Buffer and Hootsuite’s support for alternative text?
Read on for the latest updates, as of early July 2017.
Buffer and Alternative Text for Images
Emily Plummer from Buffer announced in November 2016 that alternative text was on their roadmap.
here’s that roadmap! 🙂 https://t.co/hD9v7iXiDe
— emily (@emplums) November 15, 2016
That announcement caught a lot of attention from people in the accessibility community.
When Plummer tweeted in April 2017 that Buffer was looking for beta testers to test the new alternative text feature, I quickly signed up.
also! Looking for all kinds of beta testers for this! This feature will be used by all customers, not just users with visual impairments! 🙂
— emily (@emplums) April 3, 2017
Plummer contacted me and we scheduled a time to talk about the beta test.
Unfortunately, a few days later she told me deployment was delayed.
Buffer confirmed that resources were focused on a new update in Buffer, but progress was being made on alternative text.
Oh sure thing, Deborah! 😊 I really hope that helps! We’re pumped to make headway on this! 💪 -Karinna
— Buffer (@buffer) June 28, 2017
The good news is: work is being done on alternative text. The not-so-good-news is: not clear when it will be launched.
Hootsuite and Alternative Text
As I wrote in November 2016, thanks to Dennis Deacon’s conversation with Hootsuite Help, I learned about a request for alternative text for images in Hootsuite that was submitted in May 2014.
Users could upvote a requested feature for Hootsuite. With close to 100 votes for the feature, it looked promising to me that Hootsuite would consider adding alternative text for images.
However, in the past six months, Hootsuite launched a new feedback forum and the request was deleted.
Yes, after three years of people voting to have alternative text added to Hootsuite, they removed the request from their forum.
Imagine my surprise and disappointment when I learned about the removal!
I contacted their support team about the removed ticket, and again asked about the alternative text feature for Hootsuite. Their response:
From what I can see you have been in touch with my colleagues previously to inquire information on the accessibility feature “alternative text” for Twitter.
Unfortunately I am still unable to provide you with an ETA of this feature. This something our developers are currently looking into among general improvements of accessibility to Hootsuite.
I hope this helps clarify. Please let me know if you have any further questions.
To which I responded:
Thank you for your response. Which is exactly the response I’ve been hearing for two plus years.
Disappointed. You’re aware your community of users has asked for this feature for over two years?
And I’ve had ~half-dozen tickets opened (and closed by your staff) in past two years about it?
Which brought a response from a supervisor on Hootsuite’s support team:
We have reviewed the ‘alt-text’ request with our Development Team, who has confirmed that this is not queued for further work at this time. That being said, we are monitoring the feedback and the market which may change the priority in the near future.
This ticket will be left on hold but in connection to a development ticket : once the status of this feature request will change we will update you as soon as possible.
I apologise that I am unable to provide a more satisfactory solution at this time, Deborah.
Please let us know if there are any further questions or concerns that we can assist with in the interim, we’d be happy to assist you.
and an additional follow-up message from the same supervisor:
Thank you for your reply.
I understand that you have spoken with us in the past in regards to accessibility, and we greatly appreciate your reaching out. At this time, our Development team is working on the revision of our current dashboard features as a priority.
Unfortunately, accessibility features are not an immediate result of this work, though with your help and feedback from others, we are aware of its importance.
Our apologies for any frustration caused during your conversations with Support, and thank you for your persistence as it has provided us with the opportunity to raise these issues in our ongoing work to improve the Hootsuite dashboard.
Please do not hesitate to reach out should you have any further questions, we’re here to help.
I’ve had around three dozen conversations with Hootsuite support and development team members over the past couple years. Email, tweets, and tickets solely about adding alternative text for images.
At one point, responses from the development team (filtered to me by the support team) made me think they would consider adding it to their roadmap.
However, in a repeat of what I said in November 2016, Hootsuite has no roadmap for alternative text.
My Thoughts on Hootsuite
Frankly, I’ve lost patience with Hootsuite.
After three years of asking for a feature, one that benefits every user, Hootsuite simply removed the customer request from their feedback forum.
That’s not the type of customer support I expect from a company that adds
please let us know if there are further questions or concerns to their replies.
And the ticket they’re referring to? It remains open, assigned to someone I’ve never interacted with. And there’s been no update on it since the last support reply in late June.
I’m disappointed and frustrated. Do you have any recommendations to encourage Hootsuite to take the request for alternative text seriously?
Buffer is moving forward on providing alternative text in their application, they’re responding to users requests quickly, providing information. Hootsuite isn’t moving forward.
It seems like slow going, but having worked on a software development team in the past, I understand how priorities change. And it takes time to make sure a new feature is working correctly.
I’m looking forward so seeing the alternative text feature in Buffer soon.
Again, if you’re a Hootsuite user, contact them about their plans for alternative text.