Facebook is making changes in a big way this week for those who suffer from visual impairments. More than 30 million across the globe are blind, and over 30 million in America alone suffer from low vision caused by eye diseases like cataracts, age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma.
An integral part of many social media platforms is imagery – and Facebook is one of the biggest players in that space. Like The Verge says, “It’s difficult to imagine Facebook without photos.” But for the blind and those who suffer from low vision, the Facebook world has been quite different – until now.
This week, Facebook launched a feature called “automatic alternative text” which will automatically describe the content of photos to blind and visually impaired users. According to The Verge, auto alt text will use an iPhone’s voiceover to read descriptions of the photos aloud to users. While still in it’s early stages, it can already identify concepts in categories including transportation, nature, sports, food and people. It’s currently available to iPhone users, but will later be available to Android users and via the web.
Facebook’s team recognized they needed to create a solution to this problem if they wanted everyone to be a part of the community – so with hard work and help from artificial intelligence, that’s what they did.
To read more about the new feature, visit: http://www.theverge.com/2016/4/5/11364914/facebook-automatic-alt-tags-blind-visually-impared