Facebook is reaching out to the more than 280 million visually impaired people on the planet with a new technology called automatic alternative text, which promises to help the blind community experience the social network in the same way others enjoy it.
Automatic alternative text, or automatic alt text, is a described by Facebook engineers as a new development that generates a description of a photo using advancements in object recognition technology. The company detailed the technology in an April 4 blog post written by Shaomei Wu, a Facebook software engineer; Hermes Pique, software engineer on iOS; and Jeffrey Wieland, Facebook’s head of accessibility.
The reason that an Apple engineer is involved is that automatic alt text will be first available on iOS screen readers set to English. However, the blog post notes that Facebook plans to add this functionality for other languages and platforms soon.