Facebook Launches New Feature to Make Blind People “See” Photos

April 05, 2016

Blind and visually-challenged individuals will now be able to have a more interactive experience on Facebook with the newly-launched feature called automatic-alternative text. This new feature will give blind people a clearer idea of what a photo is all about as screen readers – software that gives audio descriptions of what’s onscreen – will not only be able to identify the photo but also be able to describe what is going in that particular photo.

By means of translating the codes of a photo or what is called as Facebook’s neural networks into alternative text, screen readers are able to provide a more detailed description of what a photo is about like “image may contain: three people, smiling, outdoors.” Take note that Facebook is using the phrase “may contain,” which means what could be described is not hundred percent accurate.

Prior to this feature, screen readers can only read text and say “photo” when there is an image included. Facebook users who are blind have to depend on their friends and family members to describe what the photo contains.

Right now the availability of this new Facebook feature is limited to the English language in US, UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand and in iOS devices. However, Facebook plans to make automatic alt text available in other languages and platforms in the coming days.

Facebook, Venturebeat

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