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Instagram launches automatic alternative text to make platform more accessible to those with visual impairments

Instagram is out today with two major accessibility improvements to give those with visual impairments a better experience on the social media platform. Automatic alternative text and custom alternative text will offer users the ability to hear descriptions of photos.

In a blog post today, Instagram detailed the new features and acknowledged that with 285 million people who have visual impairments, making the platform more accessible is important.

We are introducing two new improvements to make it easier for people with visual impairments to use Instagram. With more than 285 million people in the world who have visual impairments, we know there are many people who could benefit from a more accessible Instagram.

The first feature, automatic alternative text, uses object recognition tech to create audio captions that works with screen readers.

First, we’re introducing automatic alternative text so you can hear descriptions of photos through your screen reader when you use Feed, Explore and Profile. This feature uses object recognition technology to generate a description of photos for screen readers so you can hear a list of items that photos may contain as you browse the app.

Going further, users can manually add alternative text to photos to better describe photos for those who have visual impairments.

Next, we’re introducing custom alternative text so you can add a richer description of your photos when you upload a photo. People using screen readers will be able to hear this description.

Look for “Advanced Settings” at the bottom of your screen before posting to use the custom alternative text option.

The company notes that more accessibility features are on the way. Instagram is a free download from the App Store and Play Store.

Apple has long been invested in creating strong accessibility features with its devices. Most recently, it shared how Siri Shortcuts which arrived with iOS 12 have “huge accessibility potential.”

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Avatar for Michael Potuck Michael Potuck

Michael is an editor for 9to5Mac. Since joining in 2016 he has written more than 3,000 articles including breaking news, reviews, and detailed comparisons and tutorials.