by Jessica Guynn
Originally published: April 5, 2016
A new Facebook tool will help users who are blind or have visual impairments "see" photos by describing what's in them.
With automatic alternative text, people using screen readers on iOS devices will hear a list of items that a photo on Facebook may contain such as "three people, smiling, outdoors." Without the new automated photo captioning tool, screen-reader users skimming their News Feed would only be told that a friend posted a photo. Screen-reader software turns Web pages and documents into synthesized speech for people who are blind or have severe visual impairments.
"We really want to start with a set of concepts that frequently appear in photos that add a lot of value to the narrative of the photo," Jeff Wieland, Facebook's head of accessibility, told USA TODAY.