Facebook launched a new feature on April 4 that allows users to receive spoken descriptions of what is on screen.
Before the social media site launched the automatic alternative text software, users would only be able to hear a person’s name, the person’s shared text and an automated voice would only say “photo” when a photo came up on a person’s news feed. The hope is that the new artificial intelligence (AI) created by Facebook will allow those with disabilities to get a better sense of what is going on with their Facebook friends.
“We’re … making it possible for people to feel totally included in the social interaction and be able to feel part of it without having to feel awkward, without having to be annoying to all of your friends, being like, ‘What’s so funny in this photo?’ Nobody wants to do that,” Facebook Accessibility Specialist Matt King told VentureBeat
But Facebook is aware the new AI may do a bit of oversharing, so it has limited the reach the automatic alternative text will deliver. The AI will only use a select few words to describe an image and things it is confident are actually in the image. King went on to say the goal of the new software is to make the user experience easier for those with disabilities.
“How to make software just as fun and enjoyable and easy to learn for people with a disability as it is for everybody else — that’s what I’ve always wanted to do,” King said. “I want to make the world as good for people with disabilities as it is for everybody else.”