Facebook Helps the Blind “See” its Photos
While visual content provides a fun and expressive way for people to communicate online, consuming and creating it poses challenges for people who are blind or severely visually impaired.
Thanks to artificial intelligence (AI), Facebook’s servers can now decode and describe images uploaded to the site and provide them in a form that can be read out loud by screenreader software. Up until now, screenreader software only allowed blind people to read “text”. But thanks to advancements in technology, the visual impaired can now enjoy images just like everyone else.
Facebook says it has trained its software to recognize about 80 familiar objects and activities. Then it adds the descriptions as alternative text, or alt text, on each photo. The more images it scans, the more sophisticated the software will become.
This exciting technology and use of AI is just the beginning and will be available across the company’s products, including Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp. The company said it plans to expand the feature in other languages and platforms, but it is currently available in English and on iOS.