Facebook’s new AAT feature which helps the visually impaired people see images, launches on iOS

Facebook’s new AAT feature which helps the visually impaired people see images, launches on iOS

Facebook’s new AAT feature which helps the visually impaired people see images, launches on iOS

Written by Staff Writer

05 Apr, 2016 | 4:27 pm

Facebook has launched a tool, Automatic Alternative Text, for blind and visually impaired people to “see” images on the site. For people using screen readers to identify what’s displayed, AAT uses object recognition technology to generate descriptions of photos on Facebook. This tool, led by Facebook’s accessibility team, has been several months in the making.

Matt King, Facebook’s first blind engineer noted back in October that people think how much of their news feed is visual – most of it probably is- but so often people comment on a pic or say something about it when they repost it, but it doesnt mention what is in the photo.

Before AAT, people using screen readers would only hear the name of the person who shared a photo, along with any accompanying text that the person wrote on Facebook. Now, someone could hear “image may contain three people, smiling, outdoors.

The object recognition powering Facebook’s AAT is based on a neural network with billions of parameters, and one that is trained with millions of examples. Neural networks are one type of model for machine learning. When it comes to images, you can think of a neural network as a pattern recognition system.

In Facebook’s technology for AAT, it recognizes images and words in transportation (“car,” “boat,” “motorcycle,” etc.), nature (“outdoor,” “mountain,” “wave,” “sun,” “grass,” etc.), sports (‘tennis,” “swimming,” ‘stadium,” etc.) food (“ice cream,” “sushi,” “dessert,” etc.) and descriptive words for appearance (“baby,” “eyeglasses,” “smiling,” “jewelry,” “selfie,” etc.).

AAT is currently available for iOS screen readers set to English because that’s where Facebook sees the most use from blind and visually impaired people. Facebook will soon add the functionality to other platforms and languages.

 

Source: Techcrunch

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