Published on April 5th, 2016 | by Saurabh Pandey


Facebook For VIP (Visually Impaired People)

For most users, a Facebook home page is something behold. With a rich trove of content at their fingertips — from pictures to videos to Wall posts — people connect and communicate with their friends at astonishing speeds, and with incredible ease.
As the internet becomes dominated by images & videos, Facebook is launching a system which can “read” photos and tell visually impaired people what appears in them.

Facebook going with the tagline,” connecting everyone, and letting no one left out” introduces this technology for VIP( visually impaired people). Facebook with 1.59 billion monthly active users is reaching out the impaired people too.

Facebook will begin automatically describing the content of photos to blind and visually impaired people. Called “automatic alternative text,” the feature was created by Facebook’s 5-year-old accessibility team. Led by Jeff Wieland, a former user researcher in Facebook’s product group, the team previously built closed captioning for videos and implemented an option to increase the default font size on Facebook for iOS, a feature 10 percent of Facebook users take advantage of USING VOICEOVER TO READ DESCRIPTIONS OF PHOTOS OUT LOUD

Facebook for visually impaired people

Source: huffpost

Automatic alt text, which is coming to iOS today and later to Android and the web, recognizes objects in photos using machine learning. Machine learning helps to build artificial intelligences by using algorithms to make predictions. If you show a piece of software enough pictures of a dog, for example, in time it will be able to identify a dog in a photograph. Automatic alt text identifies things in Facebook photos, then uses the iPhone’s VoiceOver feature to read descriptions of the photos out loud to users. While still in its early stages, the technology can reliably identify concepts in categories including transportation (“car,” “boat,” “airplane”), nature (“snow,” “ocean,” “sunset”), sports (“basketball court”), and food (“sushi”). The technology can also describe people (“baby,” “smiling,” beard”), and identify a selfie.

Facebook For VIP

Right: Matt King Source: Facebook

The man behind the development is Matt King, a Facebook engineer who lost his sight as a result of retinitis pigmentosa – a condition which destroys the light sensitive cells in the retina.
“You just think about how much of your news feed is visual — and is probably most of it — and so often people will make a comment about a photo or they’ll say something about it when they post it, but they won’t really tell you what is in the photo,” Matt King, Facebook’s first blind engineer, told TechCrunch. “So for somebody like myself, it can be really like, ‘Ok, what’s going on here? What’s the discussion all about?’”

The system currently describes images in fairly basic terms such as: “There are two people in this image and they are smiling.”
However, Facebook says it has now trained its software to recognise about 80 familiar objects, from cars and trains, to food and settings such as mountain, water and beach, and sports such as tennis, swimming and golf. It adds the descriptions as alternative text, or alt text, on each photo. The more images it scans, the more sophisticated the software will become. Last month, Twitter added a similar function which enables users to manually add their own descriptive text to images. Although the descriptions may be better, it requires users to actively choose to do it, whereas Facebook’s new system automatically tags every photo.

So far, Facebook has helped blind or visually impaired users in the following ways:
– Facebook has provided an audio CAPTCHA, which allows a user with a screen reader to access the site.
– Because screen readers don’t handle web pages with more advanced computing codes as well, Facebook has a full HTML version of the site (which is the same as its mobile site:
– Facebook’s Gift Shop has a “no javascript” version.
– Facebook enables Facebook Chat to work with screen readers (using the pop-out function).
– Facebook has several shortcut keys to navigate to key areas of the site, such as the Home page and Profile.

At this stage, automatic alt tags represent a fascinating demonstration of technology. But at scale, they could also represent a growth opportunity — people with disabilities have been less likely to use Facebook on average, for obvious reasons. “Inclusion is really powerful and exclusion is really painful,” King says. “The impact of doing something like this is really telling people who are blind, your ability to participate in the social conversation that’s going on around the world is really important to us. It’s saying as a person, you matter, and we care about you. We want to include everybody — and we’ll do what it takes to include everybody.”

What Next’s Facebook?

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