Listen to that picture! – Facebook’s latest feature enables visually impaired people to hear images

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Facebook’s latest accessible software, Automatic Alternative Text, offers a much briefer summary, but it is set to be very popular with visually impaired users.


When it comes to digital media, visual content represents a huge chunk of what people post back and forth. And people who are blind or visually impaired often report feeling left out or excluded whenever sighted people are looking at or discussing a picture that's popped up on someone's feed.


Automatic Alternative Text works by analyzing the picture and giving an audio description of it. It only works with existing screen readers that are popular with Facebook but is currently only available for IPhone and Apple users (although according to Facebook’s Accessibility page, they are working on expanding this). Those of you on Android are being told to “Stay tuned”.


Face recognition is apparently not available yet with this software so no chance of knowing who exactly is in the photo, but users will be given details like; how many people are in the picture, are they indoors or outdoors, other things that appear in the picture (i.e. water, trees, drinks, food, etc), as well as being told how many ‘Likes’ and comments it has.


If you do access Facebook via iOS, you may have to reinstall it before Automatic Alternative Text starts working for you. To find out more, check out the video below by Facebook. For a subtitled version visit this page.


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