How Artificial Intelligence is Improving Accessibility

Published September 27, 2022

Artificial intelligence has the power to revolutionize accessibility for persons with disability. People with any kind of disability can benefit from using artificial intelligence and machine learning to make things more inclusive and easy to use for all. Here we take a look at some of the ways AI can help improve accessibility.

For persons with visual impairment

Persons with a disability may sometimes face difficulties in staying connected with others. In such cases, artificial intelligence can be invaluable in helping them stay connected. For digital connectivity, users with visual impairments can benefit from AI-powered solutions. 

VoiceOver provides a powerful screen reading feature for reading text and email messages, but it can also describe phone battery levels, icons, and images. People with visual impairment can also use AI-supported voice assistants such as Siri, Cortana, or Google Assistant to use voice commands for specific tasks. 

For persons with hearing impairment

AI-driven transcribing apps enable easy transcription of conversations. Ava is one such example. The algorithms powering these apps add punctuation, the name of the person speaking, and necessary vocabulary. 

This can be useful for persons with hearing impairment, as it allows them to follow conversations without having to lip-read. RogerVoice is another such transcription app. It’s mostly used for French, but it’s available in 90 languages and works similarly to Ava. 

For persons with speech impairment

Artificial intelligence-based technologies can be pivotal to providing better accessibility for persons with speech impairment. At present, AI-based digital apps such as Voiceitt can understand persons with speech impairment or those with Parkinson’s or brain injuries where speech has been affected. In such cases, the app normalizes speech and reproduces it as audio or text so that users can communicate more comfortably and stay connected with the world.

For persons with mobility impairment

There are several AI-powered voice assistants available these days, including Google Voice Access, Google Assistant, and Siri. Persons with reduced mobility can easily use these assistants to deliver voice commands to complete certain tasks. 

IFTTT is an app that can be used to set up automation through connections between different apps and devices. Users with limited dexterity can customize how they access all of their smartphone’s functionalities to perform any number of tasks, from sending tweets to reading emails aloud.

Improvement of Web accessibility

There are many ways artificial intelligence can improve Web accessibility for persons with disability. For example, a website can replace CAPTCHAs—which persons with disability can often struggle with—with facial recognition software.  

AI-powered speech recognition technologies use vocalizations to navigate the internet. This can be very useful for persons with speech impairment. Microsoft Translator can provide translations and captions of videos online for persons with hearing impairment. 

Better mobility and navigation

Persons with mobility difficulties can also benefit from artificial intelligence. Wheelchair users may sometimes face barriers to moving around a city independently. AI-backed navigation apps can be helpful in such cases. 

Google Maps is one of the most popular GPS apps in the world. Wheelchair users can use Google Maps to preview their trip and find the best mode of transportation. The app has a “wheelchair accessible” option that allows users to find elevators and ramps in their city. 

“Accessible places” is another feature in the app that provides the layout of public facilities, showing restrooms, parking spots, entrances, and seating arrangements. Other apps with similar functionality include Moovit, Wheelmap, and Soundscape.

Living with independence

For many people with disability, living independently at home can become a challenge. AI can improve accessibility within the home. For example, using smart speakers such as Amazon Echo with Alexa and Google Home with Google Assistant, persons with disabilities can control things at home using voice commands. Be it switching on lights, listening to music, or setting up alarms; these smart speakers can do it all. 

Devices within the home can also be connected using these smart speakers. For example, some appliances can be set up using Alexa or Google Assistant. Users can adjust settings or turn things on or off using their virtual assistant while away from home. 

Persons with disabilities can also set up their home systems to prepare for emergencies. For example, in the case of a fall, the emergency system can be triggered, enabling easy and timely help.

Artificial intelligence holds the potential to make tools and services more accessible to everyone, and help create a more inclusive and productive world. 


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