Facebook creates program enabling blind to ‘see’ photos

CCTV News

Facebook creates program enabling blind to 'see' photos

Around 2 billion photos get shared on U.S. social networks every day. So how do blind and visually impaired people share this experience? If you own an iOS device, Facebook has answer: A technology that enables helps the blind imagine what they can’t see.

CCTV America’s Elmira Jafari has the story.

Facebook creates program enabling blind to ‘see’ photos

Facebook creates program enabling blind to ‘see’ photos

Around 2 billion photos get shared on U.S. social networks every day. So how do blind and visually impaired people share this experience? If you own an iOS device, Facebook has answer: A technology that enables helps the blind imagine what they can’t see. CCTV America’s Elmira Jafari has the story.

Denna Lambert, a project manager with NASA, can see a blur of shapes and colors, but not much else. Lambert’s dog Angie helps her see the path, and her phone helps her “see” what’s online.

“Like anyone else, I wake up,” Lambert said. “I reach for my phone and I am scrolling through to find out what is happening in the world.”

Lambert does this with what Facebook calls “automatic alternative text” and her imagination.

“This is a novel thing to say for a blind person: I ‘see’ the pictures,” Lambert said. “I experience something and I know exactly what it is.”

Other technologies are helping, too. Be My Eyes is an app that relies on thousands of sighted volunteers who help the blind or visually impaired.

For some things Lambert said technology is no substitute for a human touch. Columbia Lighthouse for the Blind has been offering that for more than a century.

“The first thing we do is what to find out what the person knows and what they want to know inclusive to their goals,” Vencer Cotton, Columbia Lighthouse for the Blind director of technology, said. “Whether it’s looking for a job, using an app, or using a particular database. We teach individuals where to look and how to be a part of a community of knowledge.”

Netflix also offers assistive technology for the visually impaired. For select TV shows and movies, special audio tracks describe a scenes in between chunks of dialogue.

These technologies have not only enriched Lamberts social media experience, they’ve enlarged her world, helping her to see more of it with her mind.