New Chrome feature uses AI to aid users with visual impairment

The internet is filled with images and memes, but not everyone is able to see them

Google Chrome app on Android

Google has announced a new feature for Chrome that uses artificial intelligence to help people who are blind or have low vision.

The feature will offer text descriptions and recognize images through the use of machine learning.

People with low vision rely on braille displays or screen readers. However, since these devices rely on websites to add alt text, they are not helpful on websites that don’t include alt text.

“When you’re navigating with a screen reader or a Braille display, when you get to one of those images, you’ll actually just basically hear ‘image’ or ‘unlabeled graphic,” said Laura Allen, a senior program manager on the Chrome accessibility team, told Fast Company. 

With this new feature, users will get a a spoken descriptive text that will describe the image on their screen. For instance, an image at a market stall could be described as “appears to be fruits and vegetables at the market.”

The descriptions will always start with ‘appears to be’” to notify users that they may not be fully accurate because they are computer-generated.

The feature will only work with screen readers that have braille or spoken feedback.

To enable the feature, you have to go to the ‘Accessibility’ section on Chrome and select ‘Get image descriptions from Google.’

Source: Google, Fast Company