Facebook Can Now Tell Blind Users About the Pictures in Their News Feeds

Debuts artificial intelligence feature

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg posted this morning that the social network now offers blind people audio descriptions of images.

The company is leveraging its artificial intelligence technology to power "screen readers" that scan news feeds and describe the content. The readers have been able to tell users what the text in a Facebook post says for some time, but they can now also detail what an image may contain via AI-enabled voice software. The program also tells users what kind of likes and reactions a post gets. 

Presumably, the system will describe the complete content of advertisements, too. 

"This is a great use of AI technology, and it's an important step towards making sure everyone has equal access to information and is included in the conversation," Zuckerberg wrote. 

According to the National Federation of the Blind, there were 7.3 million people ages 16 or older in 2013 who were categorically visually impaired.