Facebook to create a new experience for blind and visually impaired users
Despite the strong user base of about 1.5 billion users, Facebook does not have any accessibility tool so far. But now, it has reportedly been in development to create a new experience for blind and visually impaired users.
According to a report by TechCrunch, Facebook has deployed a new accessibility team, led by Jeff Wieland, to deliver a seamless social networking experience for people with disabilities. The first thing that the social networking giant is making through the new team is an artificial intelligence-based object recognition tool which will help blind users get an idea of photos shared by their friends.
The company’s first blind engineer, Matt King, has been testing the new tool alongside a screen reader to navigate Facebook. “My view of the page is totally sequential,” Matt says. “I can’t see the whole thing at one time. I see a little piece.”
The new object recognition tool uses a native artificial intelligence technology to provide words to photos. For instance, if there is a landscape image, the tool lets the blind person hears read aloud a description that sketches the features of the image like it contains nature, outdoor, cloud, foliage and grass.
Matt said that the accuracy of the tool is not just 100 percent, but still it brings the level of engagement for blind and visual impaired users. “That’s a huge jump, and it’s only going to get better from here,” he said. “I personally find Facebook’s willingness to invest in ways like that just really powerful and exciting, and just one more way to make connecting people with disabilities a great experience.”
The new object recognition tool is likely to be released on iOS or the Web by the end of this year. It would be rolled out to select users for the initial testing and a concrete plan would be formally announced sometime in the coming weeks.
- Facebook introduces ‘On This Day’ to give users a nostalgic vibe on past memories
- Facebook user base hit 1.44 billion in Q1 2015, but income slips
- Facebook adds News Feed Preferences to let you control what you see
- Mark Zuckerberg explains how accurate was ‘The Social Network’ movie in portraying his life
- Facebook developing solar-powered drones to widen internet access