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Facebook Improves Photo Experience For The Blind, Visually Impaired

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Facebook said it has launched an improved version of its automatic alternative text or AAT feature to improve photo descriptions for its users who are blind or visually impaired.

AAT utilizes object recognition to generate descriptions of photos on demand so that blind or visually impaired, or BVI individuals, can more fully enjoy their News Feed. Facebook has been working on improving AAT ever since it was launched in 2016.

Facebook noted that BVI users can experience the imagery if it is tagged properly with alternative text or alt text.

Alt text helps people who are blind or visually impaired to navigate the internet, since it can be used by screen reader software to generate spoken image descriptions. A screen reader can describe the contents of these images using a synthetic voice and enable people who are BVI to understand the images in their Facebook feed.

According to Facebook, the improved version of AAT now reliably recognizes over 1,200 concepts, more than ten times compared to the original version launched in 2016. The new AAT also offers an easy way to get more detailed descriptions about photos of specific interest.

Facebook has expanded the number of concepts that AAT can reliably detect and identify in a photo by more than ten times. The descriptions are also more detailed, with the ability to identify activities, landmarks, and types of animals.

Further, the new version of AAT offers additional details like information about the positional location and relative size of elements in a photo.

AAT uses simple phrasing for its default description, enabling users to read and understand the description. In addition, all the alt text descriptions can be translated in to 45 languages, ensuring that AAT is useful to people around the world.

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