When you suffer from visual impairment, and more than 285 million people around the world do, it can sometimes curtail your enjoyment of the connected world since not a lot of apps or services are accessible to you. The good news is that things have been changing the past few years with developers and brands becoming more aware of the need to become more accessible. Instagram is the latest app to do so as they have made two improvements to make it easier for the visually impaired to access the photo and video sharing app.
Instagram now adds automatic alternative text to all photos uploaded to the service. Using object recognition technology, it will generate a description of the elements that you will find in the photos. If you are visually impaired, you can then get your screen reader to read out the descriptions to you, whether you’re on your Feed, in the Explore section, and in the Profiles of accounts that you visit.
You can also now add custom alternative text if you yourself want to help out the visually impaired and give more detailed descriptions of the photos you upload. Just go to the Advanced Settings at the bottom of your screen before you post. You’ll see a Write Alt Text section there and when you tap it, you go right ahead and describe your photo in detail. People who use screen readers will be able to hear your description.
Instagram is actually a little late in the game when it comes to adding accessibility features. Its parent company, Facebook, has been running an image descriptor for years now. Twitter has done that as well, even though it’s more of a text-driven app with images. Hopefully, more apps will follow suit for the benefit of those who need it.
Instagram says this is just their first steps in becoming more accessibility conscious and improving access to their app. Let’s see what other improvements they will bring in the next few months.