Facebook is using AI to help blind people ‘see’ the photos in their newsfeed
Facebook recently announced its automatic alternative text, which describes the content of a photo as a user moves past it, giving blind users more context for the image.
iPhone speaks: “Image may contain pizza, food”
On Monday, April 4, Facebook introduced automatic alternative text, a feature that uses object recognition technology to form a description of a given photo as the user passes over it. While using the Facebook app on an iOS device, the feature would tell the user that the image “may contain three people, smiling, outdoors,” according to the official Facebook press release.
Many blind smartphone users rely on screen reader software to respond to texts, compose emails, and surf Facebook. As the name would imply, the tool reads the text on a given screen aloud to the user. However, previous iterations could only tell the user that a photo was present, it could not describe the photo or give any context.
So, for example, if a user was scrolling through his or her Facebook feed, the screen reader would read out the person’s name who posted the photo and then simply say “Photo.” Now, with automatic alternative text, Facebook is hoping it can better describe the content of photos for users who may be blind or visually impaired.
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