Facebook is developing a tool to help the blind ‘see’ the images that are posted on its site.
While Facebook is connecting people worldwide, the visually impaired and blind population of the world do not get as much accessibility as they would like. Sure, with screen readers the blind can hear written status updates, a technology to help them ‘see’ (describe) the images posted on the website is just on the works.
Jeff Wieland, head of Facebook’s accessibility team, is working to bring in an enriching browsing experience for the blind and the visually impaired and to make it easier for them to stay connected on the site. While we do update statuses on Facebook, we also update a lot of images, making it a visually-rich platform as well.
So how does this work?
Facebook’s first blind engineer, Matt King, talks about how the screen reader sequences the timeline for him rather than a whole. When he scrolls through the newsfeed, he can hear the screen reader read out status messages. According to the object recognition technology that is being developed, when King arrives at a status with a picture, he hears a voice that describes the object to him. For example, if someone posts a graduation picture, the voice will be programmed to say that the image may contain students in black robes and so on.
To put it simply, Facebook’s technology will read out a description of the image using its object recognition technology and help the blind and the visually impaired visualize something about the pictures that they scroll right through.
”You just think about how much of your news feed is visual — and is probably most of it — and so often people will make a comment about a photo or they’ll say something about it when they post it, but they won’t really tell you what is in the photo. So for somebody like myself, it can be really like, ‘Ok, what’s going on here? What’s the discussion all about?” – Matt King, Facebook’s first blind engineer
This initiative will definitely power Facebook and its vision of connecting the world.
*Images Source: TechCrunch