Facebook has recently launched a new feature that will enable blind users to 'see' pictures that are posted by their friends. This new feature is called Automatic Alternative Text.
This latest upgrade of the social media giant will change the way blind people explore the world, either online or offline.
Based on the data collected by the World Health Organization, there are about 39 million blind people all over the world at present. Even if they can't see, that doesn't mean that they cannot access the internet. However, the way they use it is vastly different from the way normal people do.
"You can see a whole screen full of information and because of that you're able to make decisions about how to get to the information you need," said Chris Danielsen, director of public relations for the National Federation of the Blind.
"For a blind person, it's a bit more cumbersome," he added.
The Automatic Alternative Text feature uses computers to serve as the guides for the visually impaired as they scroll on the pictures posted on Facebook. It was incorporated in Facebook's iPad and iPhone apps and can interpret things contained in a picture by using a type of artificial intelligence that can recognize objects and faces.
Another feature, the VoiceOver, which is a screen reader that is integrated with the software that powers the gadget, must be turned on in order that Facebook's photo description could be read. Currently, this service is only available in English.
Previously, when a picture is posted in Facebook, a blind person can only hear that a friend had shared a photo without any embellishment.
The description of the picture by the AAT will be initially limited to a vocabulary of 100 words. This will prevent the computer from giving all the necessary details. The social media giant is being careful with this technology as it wants to avoid making mistakes and offending its users.