Facebook has just launched a brand new feature for its iOS users. The feature is called Automatic Alternative Text. It will help the users with visual impairments to know what is appearing on their Facebook screen. The company has the plan to release later this technology on other platforms, i.e., Android and Web.
Automatic Alternative Text by Facebook uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) and smartphone’s text-to-speech algorithms to speak the descriptions of most of the pictures. The technology is not yet perfect, and Facebook is still developing it. For the time being, it can describe ordinary pictures like animals, water, tree, airplane, sunset, flower, house etc.
Despite the fact that this technology is still not that accurate, it would be really helpful for the blind users of Facebook, who were waiting for this kind of feature for many years.
In an official blog post, Facebook stated that “With more than 39 million people who are blind, and over 246 million who have a severe visual impairment, many people may feel excluded from the conversation around photos on Facebook. We want to build technology that helps the blind community experience Facebook the same way others enjoy it; that’s why we are launching Automatic Alternative Text.”
Modern smartphones come with the Screen Reader option which helps visually impaired users to understand and use most of the services provided by their phones. But now, Facebook’s Automatic Alternative Text is a new ingredient added to the Screen Reader technology to make the internet more friendly to the blind users.
The Screen Reader technology only tells the name of the person who has shared the image and does not describe the content of the picture.
Currently, Automatic Alternative Text service is only available on iOS app of Facebook. The user has to select the English language to use this feature.