While social media accessibility tools for the visually impaired have come a long way, Instagram has been lagging behind. That doesn’t mean people with visual impairments have ditched the app. But it did leave a lot to be desired in terms of functionality for the visually impaired — and that might be starting to change.
Facebook has been offering an AI tool that can describe photos using object recognition technology since 2016. Today, the Facebook-owned Instagram announced that it will bring that feature to its platform as well.
That description generated by the object recognition feature comes in the form of a “list of items that photos may contain” that will be read out loud to the user, according to Instagram’s blog update.
Instagram also announced a second accessibility feature that will allow users to add “richer descriptions” to photo posts. Currently, visually impaired users have no way to resort to alt text — a written description of online content available widely across the web including sites like Facebook and Twitter — in Instagram.
If there’s no alt text, Instagram will automatically use the object recognition feature. Users can also add custom alt text to photos they upload.
It’s great to see Instagram making a primarily visual platform more accessible to the visually impaired.
But whether the AI will be able to interpret memes is still unclear.
READ MORE: Instagram is now using AI to describe photos for users with visual impairments [The Verge]
More on accessibility features: Smart Glasses Can Convert Text Into Sound for the Visually Impaired