How AI and Machine Learning in Assistive Technology Enrich the Lives of the Disabled?
The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, held last year, in June 2019, acknowledged that Artificial Intelligence has the potential to enhance inclusion, participation, and independence for people with disabilities. This disruptive technology has presented learning opportunities for people with vision, hearing, mobility, cognition, and learning disabilities, whether temporary or permanent, to lead a better quality of life and make the most of the education and employment opportunities. This, along with machine learning, has pushed assistive technology to new heights in recent years.
While some people have been skeptical of using AI and ML for helping the disabled, the promising advancements in these fields have sure made their life smoother. Be it improving the accuracy of the popular speech-to-text software or video caption; AI has ventured into assistive technology with numerous applications and potentials. Some may argue that automatic caption has existed before the current advent of machine learning, yet it was full of flaws. Incorrect captioning not only makes a parody of the translation but makes it difficult for people with hearing impairment to understand what is being said. Therefore, now YouTube applies speech recognition and Google’s machine learning software to improve its automatic captioning system. Other hearing aids devices can include magnifiers; large-key keyboards; alternative input devices, such as touchscreen displays; oversize trackballs on computer mice; speech recognition; and text readers. Even in visual recognition tools like Braille displays, screen magnification software, and amplified telephone equipment or providing exoskeleton for enabling paralyzed people to commute around, AI and Machine learning have been immensely helpful. Similarly, ML and AI-equipped devices can automatically set thermostats, check for open doors, and turn off cooktops for people with walking problems.
According to the Data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2019, the unemployment rate for people with disabilities in America is twice as high, at 9%, as compared to those without disabilities, i.e., 4%. There can be various factors behind these figures like inadequate skills or issues arising from accidents, or poor diagnosis, etc. So, intending to reduce this, Machine learning has also eased the process of early-diagnosis with improved accuracy. Earlier diagnosis of a learning disability was complicated and challenging, and teachers were required to observe, evaluate, and gather data and then inform concerned authorities for testing. This arduous process can take months during which the affected students’ further lag behind than other students.
Nowadays, edtech platforms are leveraging machine learning platforms to make learning simpler for students with an intellectual and developmental disability (I/DD). By employing pre-processing methods to analyze the current status of education and what intervention a learner needs, edtech is coming up with a customized approach offer to instruction. And as the machine learning model develops, it becomes more adept at developing unsupervised algorithms and formulas that allow machines to act independently when it comes to making instructional decisions regarding students who need intervention and assistance.
As the introduction of AI and Machine learning to the field of assistive technology is trying to enhance life at a personal and professional level, with awareness, accessibility, and innovation, we can surely further make the lives of the disabled more comfortable and effortless.