[ This blog post is part of a collection that was written by John Samuel in December, 2018. We felt that this information is still relevant today, and important to share. The unmodified post is below. ]
Earlier this year, Instagram announced that it had hit 1 billion monthly users – a feat that only five other social networks have hit. Instagram’s higher rate of growth, compared to its parent company, Facebook, can be attributed to teens. However, a couple of new improvements that Instagram rolled out this month may attract an untapped market of over 285 million potential users, who previously couldn’t enjoy the picture sharing network – until now.
The two new improvements that Instagram made, to make their platform more accessible for people with visual impairments are:
Automatic alternative text
Custom alternative text
The automatic alternative text uses object recognition technology to generate a description of photos for screen readers so users can hear a list of items that photos may contain as they browse the app.
As for the custom alternative text, users will be able to add a richer description of their photos when they upload a photo.
Adding alternative text for images is one of the fundamental principles of web accessibility. Alternative text provides a textual alternative to non-text content, like pictures on Instagram. Therefore, for many blind or visually impaired users, who rely on a screen reader to hear what content is on their Ap, these new improvements will now allow them to engage on a picture-based platform, which they previously could not.
As a screen reader user myself, Instagram was a platform that I felt restricted from, but now I may have to check this out. Wait a minute, could I become an Influencer…I better find out what that means first!