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Blind Facebook employee is developing tech that help vision impaired use the site


Matt King is a blind Facebook employee who is developing a technology that will use Artificial Intelligence to put into words the content of an image or video. This will enable the blind to determine appropriate content for people and advertisers.

King is the head of a project that is making solutions for the blind on the platform that could be used to identify images and videos that violate Facebook's terms of use or that advertisers want to avoid.

King was born with a degenerative eye disease called retinitis pigmentosa, and lost his vision by the time he got his degree and started working at IBM on its accessibility projects. He worked on a screen reader to help the blind figure out what was on their screens either through audio cues or a braille device. IBM eventually developed the first screen reader for a graphical interface.

At Facebook, he works on features to help the disabled use the platform, like adding captions to videos or coming up with ways to navigate the site using only audio cues. One of his main projects is automated alt-text which describes audibly what is in Facebook images. Today it is available in over 29 languages on Facebook on the web, iOS and Android.

In December 2017, Facebook pushed an automatic alt-text update that used facial recognition to help visually impaired people find out who is in photos.

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