Facebook updates Automatic Alternative Text to generate automated photo descriptions for visually impaired users

Facebook updates Automatic Alternative Text to generate automated photo descriptions for visually impaired users

Facebook updates Automatic Alternative Text to generate automated photo descriptions for visually impaired users

Facebook has updated the Automatic Alt Text (AAT) system that generates automated photo descriptions for people with visual impairments. According to Facebook, AAT can now identify a photo 10 times more than before, and is able to identify more detail in a photo as well. Taking to their blog, Facebook wrote that users who are blind or visually impaired (BVI) can experience Facebook imagery, provided it is tagged properly, with the help of alternative text.

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A screen reader can describe the contents of the images using a synthetic voice enabling them to understand images on their Facebook feed.

Automatic alternative text (AAT) was introduced by Facebook in 2016 and was recognised in 2018 with the Helen Keller Achievement Award from the American Foundation for the Blind.

As per Facebook, AAT "utilises object recognition to generate descriptions of photos on demand so that blind or visually impaired individuals can more fully enjoy their News Feed."

Now, AAT has been upgraded to represent multiple technological advances that improve the photo experience for our users.

Facebook has expanded the number of concepts that AAT can reliably detect and identify in a photo by more than 10x. Descriptions are also more detailed, with the ability to identify activities, landmarks, types of animals etc.

Facebook as also made it possible to include information about the positional location and relative size of elements in a photo. Thus Facebook is now able to specify the exact number of figures in an image.

Facebook has explained that AAT uses simple phrasing for its default description, rather than long and flowy sentences. It is highly functional and users can read and understand the descriptions quickly.