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Instagram is going to be much easier to use for people with visual impairments. The photo-sharing app has announced two new features to make it easier for people with visual impairments to use the app. The new features will use screen readers to describe photos using AI or the custom text written by users. Screen readers are software applications that helps blind or visually impaired users hear or read text displayed on computer screens with a speech synthesizer or braille display.
The first feature is automatic alternative using which users can hear descriptions of photos through their screen reader when they use Feed, Explore and Profile. The feature uses object recognition technology to generate a description of photos for screen readers. Users can hear a list of items that photos may contain as they browse the app.
The next feature is custom alternative text which allows a user to add a richer description of photos when they upload a photo. People using screen readers will be able to hear this description.
To view and edit alternate text for a photo before posting to Instagram, first upload a photo on Instagram. Edit the image if you want to and then tap on Proceed . Go to Advanced settings and tap on the alternative text . Type your alternative text in the box and tap on Full. User can also change the alternate text of a photo after they have posted on Instagram. To do so go to the photo and tap on (iPhone) or (Android). Next tap on Add Optional Text and type alternate text in the box. Tap on Full and it's done.
While Instagram has launched the feature now, Facebook has been using AI to help blind users see photos for years. The social media company in 2016 started using AI to help blind people see photos in the News Feed. The feature called Automatic Alternative Text generates a description of the photos using object recognition technology.
Twitter also introduced a similar feature and in the same year as Facebook. The feature can be enabled on Twitter's app as well as on the website. To enable it, go to Settings and Privacy> Accessibility menu> Check the Compose Image Descriptions box. An Add Description button will appear at the bottom of the tweet if it contains an image. User can add description in the box. The visually impaired or blind users can access this description using screen reader or braille display.

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