I don’t use Chrome as my default browser, but from time to time it comes in handy. So when I heard about this, I figured I’d try it out.
My first impression is that it’s quite spotty, not always able to give a description when you could use one. When you do get one, it ranges from somewhat helpful to half passed useless. When it gets it right it’s just detailed enough to be kind of a cool addition to the browsing experience, but the words “appears to say” followed by a string of random numbers as happens at other times doesn’t really do much for anyone, especially when not preceded by an “appears to be” to describe the scene.
One of the places I took it was Ernie’s House Of Whoop Ass, a site loaded with imagery, some of it rather…er…questionable. And it was there that I learned that it will not describe photos it thinks contain adult content. A perfectly reasonable default setting since you never know who is using the computer, but also disappointing because machine powered photo identification can and does get things wrong. It would be nice if there were some sort of method for cranking up the obscenity level, as it were.
There is potential here for this to become extremely useful though if they put the time into improving it, which hopefully they will. New Chrome Feature Describes Images On Websites for Blind and Partially Sighted Users
Chrome’s new feature, called Image Descriptions, will attempt to identify the contents of the picture and say ‘Appears to be…’ followed by its best guess. For example, it might say ‘Appears to be a dog’, letting you know that the site probably contains a picture of a dog, but that the description was AI-generated and may not be entirely accurate.
How to activate it
The new Image Descriptions feature is available for anyone who uses a screen reader or braille display. To activate it, just go to Chrome Settings > Advanced > Accessibility and select ‘Get image descriptions from Google’.