Advances in AI are promoting greater accessibility

By: Verbit Editorial

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Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been a hot topic of discussion across a variety of industries, with many viewing the technology as a way to improve operational efficiencies and revolutionize how business is conducted in the modern world. 

AI refers to the ability of machines to perform tasks that would typically require human intelligence, such as those involving problem-solving and decision-making. This can range from simple jobs like data entry and analysis to more complex processes like image detection and speech recognition.

Recent data shows that 35% of global companies use AI in their business and approximately half of businesses plan on incorporating AI into their processes this year. Nearly 30% of IT professionals say their colleagues are using AI and automation tools to save time. 

The use of AI is also accelerating innovation within the accessibility sector, providing new technologies – and enhancing existing ones – to support individuals with disabilities. Accessible technologies are crucial to empowering the 1.3 billion people with disabilities globally. For example, AI-generated captions and transcripts are giving members of the Deaf and hard-of-hearing community better access to video and audio content, AI-enhanced audio description is benefiting individuals who are blind or with low vision and AI-based navigation tools are helping make the web a more digitally inclusive space.

What is artificial intelligence?

AI encompasses a wide range of technologies, including machine learning, natural language processing and computer vision. In essence, it’s a technology that enables computers and machines to simulate human intelligence and problem-solving capabilities. Digital assistants, GPS navigation, autonomous vehicles, and generative AI tools (like ChatGPT) are just a few examples of AI in our daily lives. From an accessibility perspective, speech recognition and language translation tools can boost communication, image recognition algorithms can help people interact with online content and AI-based navigation systems can help people better access both the physical and digital worlds.  

close up a computer keyboard, bathed in blue-purple light

AIs role in accessibility

Artificial intelligence plays a key role in boosting accessibility at home and in the workplace. Below are just a few examples of how AI is working in the accessibility space.

AI captioning and transcription

Adding captions and transcripts to multimedia content, such as videos, broadcast programs or podcasts, is essential to ensure that people who are Deaf or hard or hearing can access information effectively. Though automatic speech recognition (ASR) captions have been around for a while, advances in technology and AI have brought a new level of accuracy to the captioning table.

AI captioning tools, like Verbit Captivate™, are breaking new ground when it comes to caption accuracy and reliability. Combining industry leading technology with decades of experience, Captivate™ is trained using diverse language models enabling it to understand languages, accents, and speech patterns better than generic ASR engines. Factor in Verbit’s unique Dynamic Domain Dictionary, which searches domain-specific terms and trending topics to form an always up-to-date base library, customer-specific prep materials, pre- and post-session research, live-session monitoring and additional customization options, and Captivate™ delivers captions and transcripts to meet virtually all individual needs.

AI speech recognition

For individuals with mobility issues, AI can enable hands-free navigation of the internet. For example, speech recognition technology enables users to control devices and navigate websites, type, and perform other tasks without needing to use a keyboard or mouse. New text-to-voice cloning tools also use AI to analyze and replicate a person’s unique vocal patterns, enabling those who have lost their speech to communicate in a voice that resembles their own.

A woman with blonde hair, wearing a pink sweater, uses a laptop. For AI blog

Image detection

AI-based image detection technologies can describe online images and videos to individuals who are blind or with low vision. It’s important, then, that website designers and content creators give the AI something to read.

The best way for screen-reading software and text-to-speech programs to identify webpage images for users who are visually impaired is by including an alt text descriptor – a short, written description of the image – with each picture. This allows individuals using screen reader programs to browse visual web content and understand what the images on screen represent. Developers can add alt text to a web page’s HTML tags to make elements like images, videos, graphs, and icons more accessible to all site visitors.

Predictive AI and communication

AI can bolster communication for individuals with disabilities via predictive text. For people who find it difficult to type or send texts via traditional input methods, AI’s predictive abilities can anticipate user conversations as they type, displaying choices for words and phrases they most likely would use next based on past exchanges, writing styles and even website visits.

Automatic sign language translation

Though some progress still needs to be made, developers are working with AI to create real-time translation software to automatically translate text into sign language. The AI would create synthetic signers that can be shown on broadcasts, website videos and anywhere video information is displayed, such airports, doctor’s offices or museums.

Trust the AI experts

Artificial intelligence has shown incredible potential to drive accessibility and equality for individuals with disabilities. By continuing to develop these technologies, we can create a more inclusive society where everyone can participate fully and enjoy equal opportunities.

However, there still are some challenges in ensuring that basic AI-generated captions, descriptions, translations and speech recognition outputs are accurate enough to meet the needs of all individuals. Formatting errors, wrong words and missing words in captions or transcripts can not only limit comprehension but create awkward and embarrassing situations. An inability by some artificial intelligence programs to understand different accents or languages also can cause confusion.

Verbit’s team of technology, speech recognition and machine learning experts leveraged research, the latest technological advancements and years of expertise in transcribing millions of hours of audio and video to developing an industry leading AI captioning and transcription solution.

When you work with us, you can rest assured that we continuously update and fine-tune our AI-driven Captivate™ solution to achieve greater accuracy and reliability and conduct checks and tests on some of the more generic ASR and AI products on the market.

As opposed to ‘out-of-the-box’ ASR solutions, Captivate™ puts the customer and their unique, dynamic needs at the center of the offering. This tailored approach allows for customization at every stage of the speech recognition process with the help of Verbit’s research and development team.

Reach out to our team to learn more about Captivate™ and our other accessibility solutions, and read our expert analysis of the impact, limitations and opportunities of existing ASR technologies.