"That whole saying of, 'A picture is worth a thousand words,' I think it's true, but unless you have somebody to describe it to you, even having three words helps flesh out all the details that I can't see. That makes me feel included," a woman explains in the video.
In the past, she'd scroll through her feed and have to use the comments underneath to demystify what the image was of. With Automatic Alt Text, she can get some semblance of what a friend may be "So happy!" about without resorting to detective work. (A "So happy!" picture of a steamy slice of pizza doesn't necessitate quite the same response as that of a smiling, newly engaged couple, for instance.)
"It’s hard, if you’re sighted, to put yourself in someone else’s shoes," Jeff Wieland, who heads up Facebook's accessibility team, says. "If you don’t know someone who’s blind, people say, 'Well do blind people want to know what’s in a photo? If they’ve never seen a beach?' The emotion of hearing someone is smiling, that warms your heart whether you can see or not."
Automatic Alt Text works using image recognition to identify objects in photos. It generates, and reads out, a description of a photo, listing out items that may be in the picture. It can identify modes of transportation (things such as a car, bus, bicycle, or boat), nature (words such as outdoor, mountain, tree, and snow), words relating to someone's appearance (glasses, baby, smiling), sports, foods, and selfies.