• 19Jul

    4 areas AI makes the world more accessible

    Excerpts from an article in Charity Digital News:

    AI technology such as voice interaction, image recognition and real-time captioning is starting to break down barriers for people with sensory, physical and cognitive disabillities.

    In today’s world, so much relies on information. But this can make navigating everyday life even more of a barrier for people with a sensory, physical or cognitive impairment. Fortunately, the advent of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning technology is helping people with disabilities both interact with the physical world and use digital devices and services.

    In the previous article, we’ve looked at some great examples of charity projects using AI to achieve outcomes including conservation, language interpretation and disease management. Below, we explore the top ways AI is being used by charities and other organisations to transform the lives of disabled people and make the digital world more accessible.

    Voice interaction
    For people with limited sight or mobility, the advent of voice-enabled tech is opening up the Web in brand new ways. AI devices that use voice commands, such as Amazon Echo and Google Home, along with mobile virtual assistants such as Siri and Cortana, are bringing this into the mainstream.

    The RNIB (Royal National Institute of Blind People) even has an advice page on its website about how blind people could use the Amazon Echo to interact with the web hands-free and eyes-free. As well as making the Web more accessible for people with sight or mobility issues, voice command technology is giving people a more natural way of interacting with internet services.

    Built on the new Amazon Echo Show – a new Alexa assistant that includes a screen – the Elderly Care pilot being developed by Age UK and Accenture uses a combination of voice activation, on-screen prompts and underlying cloud-based AI technology to help older people improve their wellbeing in a number of ways.

    Image, text and visual recognition
    AI technology is helping visually impaired and blind people interpret images as well as just text. Facebook, for instance, has developed screen-reading captioning tools that describe photos to visually impaired users, and Google’s Cloud Vision API can understand the context of objects in photos.

    Speech-to-text
    At the opposite end of the spectrum, AI is helping to meet the challenges of the deaf community. Microsoft is partnering with Rochester Instistute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf, one of the university’s nine colleges, to pilot the use of Microsoft’s AI-powered speech and language technology to support students in the classroom who are deaf or hard of hearing.

    And AI is also being trained to lipread: an end-to-end lipreading system developed by Google DeepMind and researchers from the University of Oxford is able to outperform all other automatic lip-reading systems, say the researchers. This technology could have many applications for deaf people, and could soon be seen in improved hearing aids, silent dictation in public spaces and speech recognition in noisy environments.

    Text summarisation
    Not all accessibility solutions are aimed at speech, visual and mobility – many people with different types of cognitive impairments or learning disorders also need help navigating technology and everyday life.

    Salesforce has been working on algorithm that automatically summarises text using machine learning. This could help break down barriers for people with cognitive impairments such as dyslexia, attention deficit disorders, memory issues or low literacy, who might struggle to digest large chunks of text from the internet.

    Read the full article here: https://www.charitydigitalnews.co.uk/2018/07/17/how-ai-is-transforming-accessibility-for-disabled-people/