Facebook’s first blind engineer is excited about what he can ‘see’ on the horizon for technology.
“Technology is a huge part of my life,” said Matt King. “Over the last decade, there really has been major change in terms of what’s available to help people with disabilities feel more independent and productive in society. That ranges from everything from the kinds of stuff that we’re doing at Facebook, like making visual information accessible using artificial intelligence to the kinds of things that are promising on the horizon like autonomous vehicles.”
King explained how the new artificial intelligence can tell a blind person what is in a picture on Facebook.
“For two years now, we have been working on describing photos to people who are blind using machine vision,” said King. “It’s still in its early days, but, it may do something like say, image may contain three people smiling, sitting, indoors, eating. With that kind of information, we have what was previously completely out of reach unless you had a human to describe it and write a description.”
With more than 2 billion photos shared across Facebook, there are just too many for actual people to work on. There are also many other adaptations for other disabilities being worked on.
“We’re doing research in the space of how to make it easier for people with dyslexia to share comfortably on Facebook,” King said. “We provide a lot of services for people who are deaf or hard of hearing, for example, the ability of captions on a video. Also, one thing that’s really important in that space is video communications where you can have a conversation using sign language and live video.”
To find out more about what Facebook is doing, go to facebook.com/accessibility.