Social media may have connected our lives to those of our family, friends and much else in the rest of the world. But for many, all fun and excitement comes second or third hand. The visually impaired suffer yet another indignity in the social space because often they are left out.

Thanks to Instagram, however, a thoughtful update is changing the lives of one segment of persons living with disabilities. Instagram launched the Automatic Alternative Text (ALT Text) a few months ago to help the visually impaired hear descriptions of photos on their ‘Screen Reader.’.

Showing they are a true change leader, IG put ALT Text on the market to help the 285 million people in the world (160,000 in Jamaica) who suffer from a visual impairment. The benefits of this software go far beyond getting those marginalized from impairment involved in one of the technological marvels of our era. Many of these people will be able to learn new skills online and become breadwinners and assets for business.

While there are a range of benefits for persons living with disabilities here, only a small   percentage are registered with the Jamaica Council for Persons with Disabilities. Much of the help for this sector of the population comes in the form of volunteerism by schools and organizations. Overall, there is a greater awareness of the needs of this group and the organisations that support them are using new technologies to help them live normal lives.

Some of these organisations have participated in projects aimed at assisting our visually impaired community. Under the Caricom Trade and Competitiveness Project, there was an assistive technology launched in 2016, facilitated by the Government. The technology offered independence and integration for persons living with disabilities using the internet.

If you want to help in any way in making learning and recreation easier for the visually impaired, you can edit your posts, click the photos, select ALT text and add your description to the images. Trust us, they will appreciate the gesture.