Designing accessible sounds: The story behind our new chirps

Wednesday, 26 October 2022

You may have noticed some new sounds on Twitter recently — things like the “chirps” you hear when refreshing your home timeline or requesting to speak in a Twitter Space

There’s a reason for that. 

As we work to improve the accessibility of our service, we’re updating Twitter’s sounds to help make them pleasing to more people, including those with sensory sensitivities. Here’s a quick look at what’s going on.

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Designing new sounds together

Designing new, more accessible sounds requires disability representation throughout the design process. Thankfully, we’ve had a lot of help. 

Our neurodiverse team started by conducting research interviews and usability testing with people who self-identified as neurodivergent to better understand what kinds of sounds do and do not trigger sensory sensitivities. Guided by their input, we got to work with the audio experts at Listen creating a growing collection of new Twitter sounds designed to meet the following criteria:

  • Promoting accessibility for those with sensory sensitivities
  • Blending the organic and digital
  • Keeping sounds short and smooth
  • Attracting attention without being distracting

You can check some of them out for yourself below.

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More sounds, and where to hear them

We’re happy to say that the first batch of new sounds for timeline refreshes and Twitter Spaces are now available globally on iOS and Android devices. Our design team is also working on additional audio updates for things like when you send a new Tweet or get a notification, so keep your ears open for more new sounds to come! 

Of course, try as we might, not all sounds are for everyone. If you prefer a silent Twitter experience, you can toggle sound effects on and off by following these steps:

  • On iOS: Settings and Privacy > Accessibility, display, and languages > Display and Sound. Toggle Sound Effects off
  • On Android: Settings and Privacy > Accessibility, display and languages > Display. Toggle Sound effects off
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