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AI For people living with disabilities

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Over 1 billion people are estimated to experience disability. This corresponds to about 15% of the world’s population, with up to 190 million (3.8%) people aged 15 years and older having significant difficulties in functioning, often requiring health care services. 

Throughout Africa, less than 10% of children with a disability are in primary education. In some countries, only 13% receive any form of education. 

Educators can have a challenging time adapting their teaching style to match every student, especially when there are students with learning disabilities in their classroom. It can be difficult for teachers to give students the attention and instruction they really need in a contemporary classroom. Now, they might be able to receive that instruction through the use of artificial intelligence. 

Here are some ways AI can be used to assist students and people living with disabilities: 

Presenting content as simple as possible 

Students with learning disabilities often have a difficult time reading more advanced texts. They may not be able to follow complex sentence structures or struggle with popular idioms found in the text itself. Scientists are developing new technology to simplify complex learning resources into an understandable context. 

Artificial intelligence helps educators identify learning disabilities. 

Not all of the current testing methods are highly effective at pinpointing learning disabilities like dyslexia or dyscalculia. New artificial intelligence systems are being developed to help teachers administer more effective testing that could uncover some of these often-hidden conditions. Once they can be properly identified, educators can tap into the resources available for a learning disability. 

Educators can have more data. 

The numbers rarely lie when it comes to determining classroom success. With the advent of artificial intelligence, educators have more access than ever before to a variety of data that can assist them in identifying classroom weaknesses. This data may reveal areas where teaching isn’t effective or subjects where the majority of students are struggling. It also gives educators a better glimpse at how students with learning disabilities are truly doing in comparison to their peers. 

Below are apps and software created to ease accessibility for people with different disabilities 

AI for blind or visually impaired people: 

 

Cortana
A virtual assistant created by Microsoft and implemented on Windows. It helps blind or visually impaired users to navigate on their computer using simply their voice. 

VoiceOver
A screen reader is directly integrated on iPhones. Although its main use is to enunciate any email or textual message, VoiceOver also uses AI to describe app icons, the battery level and even in part images. 


AI for deaf or hard of hearing people:
 

Ava 
An instant transcription app that uses AI to instantly transcribe the conversation of a group of people. Its algorithm adds punctuation, the name of the person who is talking and the necessary vocabulary from the user’s dictionary. An easy way for people with a hearing impairment to be included and to follow a conversation with several people without lip-reading. 

Virtual assistants like Siri, Google and Google Voice Access
People with reduced mobility can use their smartphones by voice command. Google Voice Access was specially created for people with reduced dexterity. 

IFTTT
An app that connects other apps so that the user with poor dexterity can use all his smartphone’s functionalities without struggling. It creates combinations with the apps to automatically perform tasks such as reading an email aloud.

AI for moving around:

Google Maps
One of the most used GPS apps around the world. Visually impaired people or wheelchair users can prepare their trip in advance and visualize their route and the best means of transportation to use according to their profile. Thanks to the “wheelchair accessible” option, wheelchair users can know where ramps and elevators are located in the city. Plus the feature “accessible places” is useful for them to have more information about the layout of many premises: entrance, parking spots, restrooms, seating arrangements… This feature is also used by people with a visual impairment to find the exact location of a building entrance. 

Moovit
A great app for people who use public transportation. It provides real-time traffic information and turns out to be helpful for people with a visual impairment when voice announcements aren’t activated on the bus for example. 

 

Soundscape
An app that describes blind people and their surroundings with audio 3D technology. They can easily be aware of the points of interest near them and the intersections. Quite convenient to enjoy the city. 

Evelity
The first indoor wayfinding app for people with disabilities. Regardless of their profile, they can easily navigate inside complex and busy places such as subway networks, colleges and universities, shopping malls, and stadiums… Evelity works like a GPS and gives step-by-step instructions. 

AI for learning: 

Braille AI Tutor
An innovative solution to compensate for the lack of Braille teachers. Thanks to AI-based speech recognition and gamification, blind students can learn Braille more independently. Education represents a fundamental right. Accessing education is key for blind people to find a job and be included in society. 

Seeing AI on iOS
An app designed for visually impaired people that can read and describe all types of documents placed under the smartphone camera such as banknotes or mail. It can even recognize images, colors and faces thus providing details on people’s emotions. 

 

 

Google’s Project Guideline
An AI-based solution that enables blind people to run by themselves. With just a harness around their waist, their Android smartphone connected to it and headphones, blind people can run without any external help following a guideline painted on the ground. 

Accessible documents thanks to Microsoft Accessibility Checker or Adobe Accessibility Checker: students and employees with disabilities can still have access to information in order to succeed. 

By having a user-centred approach, artificial intelligence technologies use inclusive design to conceive solutions that best meet the needs of people with disabilities to enhance accessibility. Indeed, AI technology enables them to gain more autonomy whether they’re at home enjoying a movie with subtitles or at work reading an accessible document making the world more accessible and inclusive to them.