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Instagram has added two new features designed to make it easier for visually impaired people to use Instagram. These features mean screen readers will be able to accurately describe what’s in photos uploaded to Instagram.
There are hundreds of millions of people in the world with visual impairments. And while this can make everyday life challenging, it makes using the internet almost impossible. However, things are improving as more companies rise to the challenge.
Instagram Makes Itself More Accessible
Instagram is making itself more accessible to people who have visual impairments in two ways. The first relies on Instagram users to add detailed descriptions of what’s in their photos. The second uses artificial intelligence to describe what’s in the photos.
The first method is custom alternative text, which relies on users adding descriptions to their photos. Anyone using a screen reader will then be able to hear this description when they view the photo, helping them to see the photo through the words chosen.
We’re proud to improve Instagram for people with visual impairments. Starting today, we are automatically adding alternative text to photos on Feed, Explore and Profile so people who use screen readers can hear what’s in the photo. pic.twitter.com/IRsiw8F23V
— Instagram (@instagram) November 28, 2018
You can add alternative text to an Instagram photo when creating a new post. Just click “Advanced Settings” at the bottom of the page. Then click “Write Alt Text”. Then write a detailed description where you paint a picture with words.
The second method is automatic alternative text, which uses object recognition technology to describe what’s in the photos being viewed. This is meant to be the back up for when people don’t add their own alternative text.
Let’s Help Everyone Enjoy the Internet
Instagram should be applauded for this move, even though it has taken years to implement such a feature. As the world moves increasingly online, it’s important that we, both tech companies and the people who use their services, don’t leave anyone behind.
If you are blind or visually impaired we have previously listed a number of different ways to browse the web. We have also offered guides to the accessibility options on Windows 10 and the accessibility options on a Chromebook.
Image Credit: KimmahOney/Flickr