5 Ways AI Improves Corporate Accessibility

By: Sarah Roberts
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The internet is home to many unfounded concerns over robots taking human jobs. However, the truth is that helpful technology is paving the way for more inclusive workplaces. Technologies like Artificial Intelligence are opening the door for additional people to enter the workforce by supporting professionals and breaking down barriers for employees with disabilities.

In a world where businesses face steep competition for top talent, AI-powered solutions can both address personnel shortages and improve corporate culture. For instance, surveys show that inclusivity and accessibility are qualities that top the lists of many highly skilled job seekers. At the same time, the many out-of-work people with disabilities are an untapped source of skilled employees who can fill in-demand roles when given the opportunity.

Here are five ways that AI is helping companies build accessible, diverse and inclusive workplaces. 

1) Accessible job searches and unbiased hiring

AI makes it easier for companies to recruit and hire people with disabilities. Inclusive hiring is critical because building an inclusive company isn’t possible unless diverse applicants have access to jobs in the first place. 

Our Ability, Inc. is an AI-powered platform that connects people with disabilities to jobs that match their skill-sets. The company’s founder plans to reach more job seekers by using AI that works like Alexa or Siri to help people fill out applications or search for jobs through dictation, improving access for people with mobility disabilities that prevent them from typing quickly.

The Inclusive Design Research Center (IDRC) is also working to facilitate better job-matching for people with disabilities through AI. While some studies indicate that AI may have biases that negatively impact diversity, the IDRC is developing algorithms that encourage diverse hiring and find meaningful matches between skills and job candidates. Research shows that human recruiters are often unfairly biased against job applicants with disabilities, so this initiative is an important step toward more inclusive hiring and expanded access to employment.

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2) Improved work opportunities for individuals who are Blind

Microsoft used AI to create an app that tells people who are blind or have low vision about their surroundings, including documents, products, and nearby people. The tool can identify co-workers by name or describe unfamiliar individuals and indicate whether they are smiling. It can also instruct the user regarding where to move the camera to get a photograph of a document and then will read that document aloud. 

In a workplace setting, this tool can ensure that people who are blind have the opportunity to experience their surroundings and can interpret documents and even handwritten notes. 

3) Video captions to provide equity to people who are Deaf or hard of hearing

As companies increase their use of video content and live virtual events, efficient video captions like Verbit’s that integrate AI are providing equitable viewing experiences for employees and participants who are Deaf or hard of hearing. Unlike many built-in, automatic speech recognition (ASR) offerings, Verbit combines its AI with professional human transcribers and captioners. This process helps businesses provide accurate captions to their employees and audiences while supporting their need to meet Americans with Disabilities Act guidelines and create more inclusive environments.

Verbit’s purpose-built technology also integrates with platforms like Zoom and Panopto, which business leaders frequently rely on to easily make their live and recorded video content accessible. Employees who need captions can use these tools to participate in live meetings, attend webinars or view training videos. Captions also help many people with neurodiversity or who speak English as a second language, so they are an essential aspect of any accessibility initiative. 

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4) Creating employment possibilities for those with mobility-related disabilities

Much of today’s work, including high-demand tech-related jobs, requires that employees use computers. People with certain mobility-related disabilities can’t use a mouse or keyboard, inhibiting their ability to perform many tasks. Voice command technology allows these individuals to navigate the screen through speech. Additionally, eye-tracking tools like Intelligaze present new ways for these individuals to navigate computer and tablet devices.

Now, researchers at the University of Birmingham are developing eye-tracking AI that people can use to perform computer coding tasks. In conjunction, the two tools could help corporations simultaneously become more accessible while filling tech positions in a market with too few candidates. 

5) AI to engage those with learning disabilities

Although different types of learning disabilities (LD) impact adults, 85% of individuals with LDs experience some form of reading difficulty. These disabilities are not correlated to low intelligence, and many people who have dyslexia or a related reading disorder are talented and successful. However, they may require certain accommodations to meet their full potential. 

Sifting through the massive amounts of information on the internet or in longer documents is sometimes a challenge for these individuals. Machine learning is becoming capable of reviewing large amounts of text and identifying the information the reader needs. This tool can help employees with LDs better understand written information and perform their jobs at a higher level. 

Innovation is continuing to create more possibilities for people with disabilities. These resources are already illustrating that there is an abundance of talented individuals with the skills needed to thrive in high-level professional roles. Now, proactively accessible corporations have a chance to benefit from their inclusive policies. 

Verbit is an essential partner for corporations investing more in much-needed accessibility and diversity efforts. Working with Verbit ensures that businesses have access to specialized teams whose sole job is to focus on today’s corporate inclusion needs.  Verbit’s professionals can help you accelerate progress within your organization. Contact us to learn more about how our captioning, transcription and audio description services can support your company’s inclusivity initiatives.