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Facebook for iOS adds VoiceOver feature to help blind users 'see' photos

The feature, called Automatic Alternative Text, can be accessed in the latest release of Facebook's free iOS application
Digital Communicator
April 5, 2016

Facebook has made a great improvement to its free iOS application, adding a feature called Automatic Alternative Text that is designed to help blind or visually impaired users “see” photos.

Automatic Alternative Text

Automatic Alternative Text

Facebook Automatic Alternative Text

The feature works through allowing iPhone owners to swipe on an image in order to generate an audio description of the picture; this is then read aloud using Apple's VoiceOver. As MacRumors explains, this has huge implications for visually impaired users of Facebook's iOS app, allowing this demographic of iPhone owners to engage with content on the social network like never before.

Previously, people using VoiceOver would only hear the name of the person who shared the photo, followed by the term “photo”, when they came upon an image in the News Feed.

However, Automatic Alternative Text does much more. It uses new advancements in object recognition technology to generate “richer description” of images displayed inside Facebook for iOS. The publication goes on to add that through the new feature, visually impaired users may now hear descriptions like, “Image may contain three people, smiling, outdoors.”

Available in English only ... for now

For now, the feature is available in English only, although plans for a wider release are being made. In order for the feature to work on your iPhone, you'll need to have VoiceOver enabled: to do this, launch the iOS Settings app, choose General, then Accessibility, and turn on VoiceOver.

Facebook, Inc.