Facebook photos on iOS can now be accessed by blind via photo description feature

Facebook photos on iOS can now be accessed by blind via photo description feature

Social network Facebook said in a Tuesday announcement that it has started rolling out a new feature on its iOS app, to give the visually-impaired users the ability to hear audio descriptions of the photos posted by their friends.

The new photo description feature marks the incorporation of a VoiceOver screen reader in the software which powers the Facebook app for iOS. The feature is capable of interpreting the contents of a particular photo with the help of a kind of ‘artificial intelligence’ which can recognize faces as well as objects.

For Facebook’s photo descriptions to be read out to the users of the social network’s iOS app, the VoiceOver screen reader has to be turned on. Initially, the photo descriptions will be read out only in English language.

The ability to hear descriptions of photos marks an extension of the functionality of screen readers for the visually-impaired users of the Facebook social network. Thus far, the screen readers only told the visually impaired that a photo has been shared by their friend.

Highlighting the fact that the rollout of the new photo description feature is a result of the challenges faced by blind or severely visually impaired people in consuming video content on the social network, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a Tuesday post that the photo description tool is "an important step towards making sure everyone has equal access to information and is included in the conversation."

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