Facebook gets easier to use for visually impaired people thanks to artificial intelligence

Facebook is making its iPhone app easier to use for visually impaired people. The social network is using artificial intelligence to create automatic descriptions of photos, also known as automatic alternative text. Using its neural network-based object recognition technology, Facebook will generate description of various objects in a photo, from people to food.

From Facebook

Automatic alternative text, or automatic alt text, is a new development that generates a description of a photo using advancements in object recognition technology. People using screen readers on iOS devices will hear a list of items a photo may contain as they swipe past photos on Facebook. Before today, people using screen readers would only hear the name of the person who shared the photo, followed by the term "photo" when they came upon an image in News Feed. Now we can offer a richer description of what's in a photo thanks to automatic alt text. For instance, someone could now hear, "Image may contain three people, smiling, outdoors."

Automatic alternative text is launching first in English, but will expand to more languages in the near future.