Adapted from Empowering Individuals with Disabilities through AI Technology
The World Health Organization estimates that more than 2.5 billion people with disabilities will need one or more assistive technologies in 2030. Yet almost a billion of them can’t access these products. Considering how globalization is increasing, this means we are denying an entire community from enjoying the same services as everyone else.
As AI systems have grown in popularity and complexity, however, we are seeing more AI-powered solutions that can help people with mental, physical, visual or hearing challenges perform tasks, both everyday and complex. By making AI technologies more widely accessible, many businesses can change the lives of individuals with disabilities.
Here are four ways businesses using AI technology can empower (or are already empowering) people with disabilities.
1. Easing Communication
AI voice technologies, such as Siri, Alexa, and Echo, help make communication easier for people with disabilities. These programs can describe text and images to people with visual disabilities, and text-to-speech (or vice versa) technologies can help people with brain injuries communicate or understand things more easily. Businesses can also use AI-powered voice technology to improve their customer support.
2. Learning Opportunities
Everyone should be able to access any service, regardless of their abilities. AI technology can help ensure this inclusivity. For example, just like subtitles let people with hearing impairments understand a movie, braille helps people with visual impairment read. You can now find AI-powered braille tutor apps on the internet that assist people with disabilities in learning braille and accessing education at different levels.
Business leaders can use AI-powered solutions to create a continuous learning and development culture. For example, businesses can implement personalized learning paths to help employees find training courses and materials according to their skills.
3. Promoting an Independent Lifestyle
AI is opening doors for people with disabilities to live independent personal and professional lifestyles. For example, many AI programs help businesses create effective and efficient workflows with virtual assistants like Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa, which can schedule meetings, set reminders, and automate many voice tasks. Other AI tools that can ease workflow include robotic process automation (RPA), which can automate repetitive tasks.
4. Connection to the Outside World
In this fast-paced, globalized world, it’s as important as ever for people to feel connected with each other. AI technology has introduced new ways to help people with disabilities feel linked to their surroundings. For example, Microsoft’s Cortana can assist visually impaired individuals in navigating their devices through voice control. Businesses can employ AI-powered virtual assistants to help people with disabilities attend and schedule meetings, answer emails and collaborate with others, like everyone else.
Inclusion Regardless of Ability
People with disabilities have the same right to enjoy life and succeed at their professional goals as everyone else. They should be empowered to work independently, communicate across teams and learn new skills. Fortunately, AI has been helping business leaders enhance accessibility and inclusivity in their workplaces. Businesses incorporate some of these tools in the workplace, not only to give current employees more paths to success but also to attract and retain a talented and diverse employee pool.