Instagram has announced it's making changes to its platform in order to make it more accessible to the more than 285 million people in the world who have visual impairments.

The first new feature is automatic alternative text. This will allow visually impaired users to hear image descriptions through their readers while using Instagram's Feed, Explore and Profile sections.

Automatic alternative text uses object recognition to automatically generate photo descriptions for screen readers, so users can hear a list of items that photos may contain while navigating the app.

Given Instagram's parent company Facebook has already developed an AI-powered object recognition system (trained using Instagram images) this new feature is likely using the same technology, although this hasn't been confirmed.

Custom alternative text is the second new feature designed to make things easier for visually impaired users. Uploaders can now provide a more detailed description of images while posting. This description will be read out to users of screen readers.

Instagram says these are only first steps, so we'll likely see more accessibility features in the near future.