Social Media

This new Facebook feature will Use Artificial Intelligence to Describe Photos to Blind Users

Artificial Intelligence is a technology that is growing very fast and with this growth it seems to be helping people in a very big way. But how can we use this technology to help people who are visually impaired? Today Facebook rolled out a very interesting feature that will use Artificial Intelligence to describe photos to blind people.

While visual content provides a fun and expressive way for people to communicate online, Facebook says consuming and creating it poses challenges for people who are blind or severely visually impaired.

”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.” The company said.

Known as Automatic alternative text, or automatic alt text, the feature generates a description of a photo using advancements in object recognition technology. This means people using screen readers on iOS devices will hear a list of items a photo may contain as they swipe past photos on Facebook. Previously, 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.” Facebook said.

Previously, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg had mentioned that this new took was part of Facobook’s goal of expanding social media access and making technology more helpful to people.

While this technology is still nascent, Facebook says tapping its current capabilities to describe photos is an important step toward providing their visually impaired community the same benefits and enjoyment that everyone else gets from photos.


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Nixon Kanali

Tech journalist based in Nairobi. I track and report on tech and African startups. Founder and Editor of TechTrends Media. Nixon is also the East African tech editor for Africa Business Communities. Send tips to

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