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Facebook Releases Automatic Alternative Text for the Blind

By Alex Neil Posted Apr 05, 2016 in Facebook News/ Social Media News

facebook aat for the blind

Most of the websites now a days are designed to facilitate any type of user that visits the site. They are compatible for the screen readers as well. Screen readers are devices that are specifically for blind people so that they could still be a part of what goes on around the world. Screen readers identifies different elements on the screen and reads them out loud so that the person could know what is on the screen.

Facebook is compatible for screen reader as well. But before today, it only read out loud the name of the person who shared a post, the accompanying text, who liked it and who commented. The photo was totally skipped over because it couldn’t be translated into text.

“You just think about how much of your news feed is visual — and most of it probably is — 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,” Matt King, Facebook’s first blind engineer, told TechCrunch back in October. “So for somebody like myself, it can be really like, ‘Ok, what’s going on here? What’s the discussion all about?’”

Today, Facebook launched a tool that is called Automatic Alternative Text (AAT) that describes different elements in a photo so the blind person could have an idea about what is going on in the photo.

Facebook AAT

This tool is just available for iOS version of Facebook app in some regions for now but Facebook is planning to bring it out to Android version and the rest of the world too. Here is what Facebook said about how to use AAT on screen reader:

“This feature is currently only available on the Facebook app for iOS in some regions.

Automatic alternative (alt) text is a feature that uses object recognition technology to create a description of a photo for the blind and vision-loss community. To hear the automatic alt text for a photo, access Facebook with a screen reader and focus on the image. If objects are identified, you’ll hear a list of items the photo may contain.”


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