By Hillary Kleck
Facebook recognizes that the blind community wants to “experience Facebook the same way others enjoy it,” and took action. The world’s largest social media platform introduced its latest accessibility feature for blind users that automatically describes photos throughout timelines and albums. The “automatic alternative text” technology uses artificial intelligence (AI) to analyze the image, then announces the findings aloud via VoiceOver on Apple devices or TalkBack for Android. Just a few of the examples of the details it recognizes include animals and people, smiling faces, colors and scenery, objects and more. Here’s a video from Facebook showing how a blind person uses the feature. The feature is already being applauded by Facebook’s users.
The complete story on this exciting new technology from Facebook can be found on their website, Using Artificial Intelligence to Help Blind People “See” Facebook. If you’d like to learn more about the innovative Automatic Alternative Text technology developed by Facebook Engineers and Researchers, check out their blog posts Under the hood: Building accessibility tools for the visually impaired on Facebook and How blind people interact with visual content on social networking sites.
Twitter also recently introduced a way for users to describe the photos they post. The alternative text (aka “alt-text”) will be added by the person tweeting the image using the “add description” button. The descriptions are limited to 420 characters, which is three times longer than the actual tweet is allowed. It will be interesting to see how many Twitter users (including individuals and companies) will take the time to add the description. Learn more about the “Compose Image Descriptions” accessibility option on the Twitter Blog.