According to Facebook, more than 2 billion photos goes through its platform which also include Instagram, Messenger, and WhatsApp everyday. However, not everyone can easily experience these images especially for more than 39 million blind people and 246 million users with serious visual impairment throughout the world.
To help these users, Facebook has introduced automatic alternative text in its iOS app today in selected English-speaking markets. Through this particular feature, the app is able to scan a photo and then read out the elements that contained within it.
Developed over a period of 10 months, this particular feature is made possible through the company’s machine learning-based object recognition technology which has gone through substantial amount of training data. That being said, the dev team has chosen to include around 100 objects and scenes – referred to as concepts – at the moment into the feature which include elements such as people’s appearance, nature, sports, food, and image properties.
The new Facebook automatic alternative text feature will first be made available to its iOS app in English for US, UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Of course, Facebook has planned to make the feature available in other platforms, languages, and markets in the near future.