Today I’m so excited it’s ridiculous. Because today, I am one big step closer to being fully included in the full Facebook experience.
I loved Facebook in its infancy. All statuses were chronological and even though there were photos, they didn’t clog up my newsfeed to the point where I felt more frustrated than informed. Then, things started changing. And by 2011, I was seriously sick of Facebook because I could no longer choose not to get photos in my newsfeed on a permanent basis. I don’t know if people also started to post more photos, but to me they seemed to increase.
Eventually, I learned to live with it. I’m a minority group and accept that most people cherish photos. It’s not that I don’t, but I much prefer a video with good audio or just audio because it’s the best way for me to relive saved memories.
But captions on photos help a lot. They don’t have to be longwinded, but something like “My cat fell asleep on my newly ironed work suit” is enough for me to understand and click like.
But not everyone writes good captions all the time. Even I am guilty of this. See, I’m conforming to the majority, so I was excited when I heard that soon, Facebook would have recognition software that could describe photos for blind people.
And today, it has finally happened. I was browsing through my newsfeed as usual when I heard Voiceover on my iPhone read out a description of a photo someone had published. I couldn’t believe it at first, so I kept scrolling. And sure enough, there were more image descriptions.
The biggest smile you can imagine crossed my face and I did a little dance, in my feverish flue state.
The image recognition today is very basic and will only describe in general terms. “This image may contain one person and tree outdoors.” An Interview with the blind engineer, I think his name is Matt King, who is the main man behind this great development said that it could potentially recognize a lot more, but that it would take some more testing and developing before it’s possible to get more detailed descriptions. He added that some are raising concerns about data protection safety. But as he pointed out, we only want the data that’s already there.
I hope that soon I’ll be able to hear descriptions like “Jane and John at outside table drinking coke,” but for now I am happy. Because this is an extremely important step towards including blind people into the vast visual world of social media. I already feel more included and I can’t wait till this feature also comes to Instagram. And perhaps Twitter soon will see the sense to not just to rely on users writing good captions for their images. Captions are not dead though. Because even though it’s possible to see an image, or hear it, a caption can still tell a good story.
Well, that’s me off to look at some more Facebook photos. Laters! Xx