We kind take for granted how we use our everyday gadgets in surfing the web and connecting with people from around the world on social media. There are some people who cannot do this easily and that is why there are accessibility options in smartphones and laptops that help disabled people use these gadgets. In Windows for example, there is Narrator that narrates what you are doing on the screen and this is what Facebook is trying to achieve with their accessibility feature.
This is why Facebook announced a new AI based feature that will help blind people use the service easily. This was done due to the fact that using Facebook and its subsidiaries is a very visual process and blind people are sidelined from this. “Every day, people share more than 2 billion photos across Facebook, Instagram Messenger and Whatsapp”, Facebook revealed in the post. “With more than 39 million people who are blind, and over 246 million who have a severe impairment, many people may feel excluded from the conversation around photos on Facebook”
So what is this feature? Facebook calls it Automatic Alternative Text where the company describes the technology as follows:
Automatic alternative text or automatic alt text is a new development that generates a description of a photo using advancements in object recognition technology.
In layman’s terms, the technology is a step up from the traditional screen readers which read the name of the person in the photo followed by the word “photo.” Automatic alternative text will add a more detailed description of the photo, like what Facebook gave as an example: “Image may contain three people, smiling, outdoors.”
The feature is being launched first to iOS users in English and Facebook promises to add more functionality and languages in other platforms. This functionality will let the almost quarter of a billion blind people in the world use Facebook with ease.