The power and potential of a new technology called ChatGPT, the artificial intelligence chatbot from OpenAI, has led some to claim it heralds a new era in computing. Over the past few years, such innovations in artificial intelligence have offered great potential to enhance digital accessibility. As a result, more people with a disability can now access services in the digital world thanks to AI and machine learning.
What is artificial intelligence and how can it enhance accessibility?
Artificial intelligence (AI) is a branch of computer science concerned with building smart machines or algorithms capable of performing tasks that typically require human intelligence. Whether we realise it or not, AI is all around us and plays an active role in our daily lives. Every time we do a Google search, open our Facebook newsfeed, get a product recommendation from Amazon, or book a trip online, AI is working away in the background. But AI-based technologies can also be pivotal in providing better accessibility for someone with a vision impairment or another disability.
Let’s consider how AI can remove accessibility barriers through different solutions:
- Image or facial recognition for people with a visual impairment
- Lip-reading recognition for people with a hearing impairment
- Text summarisation for people with a cognitive impairment
- Real-time captioning or translations for people with a hearing impairment
There are many examples of how AI is improving accessibility in technology for people with sight loss. VoiceOver, the screen reader directly integrated on iPhones, uses AI to describe app icons, the battery level, and even images. Seeing AI is an iOS app designed for those with a vision impairment. The app can read and describe all types of documents placed under the smartphone camera such as banknotes or mail, recognises images, colours, and faces, and recently introduced a new Indoor Navigation feature.
Google Lookout is the equivalent Android app and also uses AI for many of its functions. Microsoft and Adobe both make use of AI in their built-in Accessibility Checkers. The checkers are used to analyse files and provide recommendations to ensure the content is accessible for those with a disability.
What is ChatGPT?
Since its launch in late November 2022, ChatGPT has taken the internet by storm. This natural language processing tool driven by AI technology allows users to have human-like conversations with a chatbot. It responds to the user’s questions and commands and can draw upon its billions of words to process and generate text, appearing informative and knowledgeable. We decided to put ChatGPT to the test by asking for its perspectives on AI and digital inclusion. Its response was impressive and characteristically human-like.
Q. How can AI such as ChatGPT help us to improve digital accessibility?
Ans. AI models like ChatGPT can improve digital accessibility by enabling natural language interfaces for people with disabilities. For example, ChatGPT can provide text-to-speech conversion or text summarisation to make information more accessible for people with visual impairments. It can also help in generating alternative text descriptions for images to help people with visual impairments understand what’s on the screen. Additionally, AI can be used to automate accessibility testing and to provide more accessible content recommendations. These applications can make digital experiences more inclusive and accessible for people with disabilities.
Artificial intelligence has the power to revolutionise accessibility for people with disabilities. With each passing year, AI is growing at an ever-quickening pace. From smart home appliances to smartphone apps, it continues to make more and more strides in almost every aspect of our lives. What the advent of ChatGPT highlights is that AI is here to stay and will continue to play a key role in creating a more inclusive digital future for everyone.
If you need information on how to make your website or digital content more accessible, please do not hesitate to contact the IA Labs team today.