Facebook Alternative Text On Mobile Screens

ICYMI: Facebook Releases AI-Driven Alternative Text for Visually Impaired

With it's new Automatic Alternative Text, Facebook is giving millions of vision-impaired web users a way to engage with it's image content.



April 14, 2016


Facebook launched an AI-driven application called Automatic Alternative Text. This application lets visually-impaired users discover the billions of images being shared on the network.

Watch the video to the right to learn more about Facebook’s latest innovation.

With users sharing ~350 million photos per day, it makes sense that Facebook would want to enrich the experience for it’s blind users and those with limited vision.

The new tool uses image recognition software and AI to automatically identify the contents of a photo and it then describes them to users with words.

Alternative text has been around for years with screen readers like NVDA and JAWS already providing it. However, Facebook’s new app is a breakthrough because it automates the creation process, making billions of images accessible. This is a great example of AI/ML being put to positive use.

In marketing, we usually talk about alternative (alt) text as part of optimizing images for SEO. Alternative text wasn’t designed for this. However, that’s (mostly) how we think about it.

But maybe this will change. Facebook’s move could gets marketers (and everyone else) thinking about how to make the web more accessible. Especially since it can be good for business.

Visit the governments accessibility site, Section508.gov to learn more about alt text and other ways to make your website more accessible.

I’d also suggest watching the video below showing people’s reactions to the new tool. It will make your day.

Feature image: Facebook

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