Publications and resources
Several years ago, Facebook introduced innovative new technology for screen reader users called AAT that can generate text-based descriptions for photographs that are missing them. They have continued to improve this technology and it is now taking a big leap forward.
Before looking at the details of this below, please note that our podcast team looked at this in detail in the latest edition of the EBU Access Cast, so take the time to check it out for their independent analysis!
AAT is now able to recognize over 1,200 concepts – more than 10 times as many as before. AAT is available for photos on Facebook for iOS and Android in News Feed, profiles and groups and when a photo is open in the "detail" view (where an image appears full screen against a black background). It is also available on Instagram for iOS and Android for photos in Feed, Explore and Profile.
They’re also unveiling a new, additional AAT feature on Facebook for iOS and Android that provides a more detailed image description, including a count of recognized objects, the position of objects in a photo, and their relative size. The detailed description can be accessed using a long press (Android) or a ‘custom action’ (iOS) on a photo. This design is based on early user feedback, enabling people to hear more about the photos they are most interested in, without slowing them down by providing too much information about every photo they encounter.
They have also published a Newsroom blog post – Using AI to Improve Photo Descriptions for People who are Blind and Visually Impaired – to introduce these improvements and describe how They accomplished this work. Here are some of the highlights from the blog post: