Instagram is a photo and video sharing social network, which by default puts the emphasis on viewing the content users upload. However, the visually impaired among us also want to view that same content, and Instagram is taking steps to ensure they can enjoy it regardless of the quality of their sight.
In order to make the social network more accessible, Instagram is embracing object recognition technology that is capable of automatically recognizing the objects present in a photo and creating a description for them. This should give the viewer a general idea of what’s going on in the photo. But it’s the other new feature that’s sure to be of more use to the visually impaired.
When uploading a photo to Instagram there’s now a new option to write alternative text for the image. It’s available in Instagram’s advanced features and is accessed by tapping the “Write Alt Text” option in the Accessibility section. This will load a new page where you can type up to 100 characters describing what’s in the photo.
Once uploaded and saved, the alternative text is available to be heard through screen readers and it should offer a much more detailed description that the one produced by the automatic object recognition system. It’s a shame the text is so limited, though, with 100 characters not really being enough to describe a detailed photo to someone. Hopefully Instagram decides to increase the limit in the near future, because even Twitter allows 280 characters now!
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