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Facebook has long been a fantastic way to exchange memories and flaunt your vacations with all of your friends — and then some. But since its conception in 2004 those who are visually impaired or blind have been largely left out of the loop.



Much of the internet in fact has been out of reach for these people, and Facebook aims to change that. Facebook has been making attempts to free people of their impairments with its now 5-year old accessibility team. The team has already implemented closed captioning for videos, and implemented an option to increase the font size on iOS devices; a service that 10% of all users take advantage of.

However, if you were to ask anyone what made Facebook so successful the unanimous answer would have to be the implementation of sharing photos. The endless stream of photos has made social platforms like Facebook near irresistible to many. And this is where visually impaired individuals are hit the hardest.


Automatic Alternative Text


That’s where the reveal of Automatic Alternative Text comes in, alternative text is an advanced neural network that basically generates a description of an image. Using Facebook’s advanced object recognition that runs down items in the photo, meaning anyone using the screen reader can hear a basic description of the photo.

Basic is definitely right as you will see in the video below:



While there is a lot of work to do to make this a truly fantastic function for the visually impaired community, it’s a step in the right direction. And hopefully will spark more initiatives to increase accessibility for those who might need it.

After all we all deserve to enjoy funny cat videos.




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