How AI Can Improve the Lives of People with Disabilities

Artificial Intelligence has been opening up new and simpler ways to accomplish our daily activities. With the big potential to automate tasks that typically require human intelligence, such as speech and voice recognition, visual perception, predictive text functionality, decision-making and performance of a variety of other tasks, AI can help individuals with disabilities by making a major difference in their ability to get around and participate in the activities of daily living.
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AI can be a game-changer for disabled people by making it easier to create interactive tools that support physical accessibility and independence. Let’s go through some useful applications of AI in this field and see how it can be used to improve the lives of those with disabilities in a number of ways.
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Communication and human connection

AI-voice-assisted technologies, like Echo, Google Home, Alexa, have created new means of accessibility for disabled people. As AI takes an important role in communication and interaction, the use of this technology enables individuals with disabilities to access information much easier, all just by speaking to their devices.

Advances in speech-to-text and text-to-speech technologies come to aid those living with speech impediments. Voice systems like Voiceitt can learn speakers’ pronunciation over time and translate the user’s words into clear and normalized speech in the form of audio or text messages. The app may also be used to help people with speech impairments communicate face-to-face with each other. Similarly, Google’s Parrotron is another AI tool that makes it easier for speech-impaired users to be understood by turning impaired speech patterns into fluent speech.
Advancements in AI technology have also made it possible to develop tools that make the lives of people with hearing disabilities easier. One of the leading providers of such AI-powered platforms is GnoSys, known as “Google translator for the deaf and mute”. The AI-based app uses neural networks and computer vision to translate gestures or sign language into text and speech instantly. Google’s DeepMind has also used the capabilities of AI to create a system that uses lip-reading algorithms to accurately decipher entire phrases. The system was trained watching over 5000 hours of different TV programs and analyzing a total of 118.000 sentences. The research resulted in a system that can interpret human speech in public spaces, a variety of noisy and lighting environments.
AI can create life-changing opportunities for people with limited vision as well. Through image recognition technology, AI understands the context of objects in photos and describes photos to people. Microsoft’s Seeing AI is a great example of such a computer vision platform that narrates the world around visually impaired people by reading texts, describing how the person looks like, recognizing faces and emotions.
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Independent in-home living
Smart home technology can be a great benefit for those with limited mobility. Through simple voice commands allowing to communicate what they need and request the information they are seeking, they can control nearly every aspect of their home from switching on/off lights, adjusting the temperature to turning off the stove, and playing music. AI-assisted smart home technology can be very helpful for people living with disabilities, assist them in moving around the home, and support more independent living.

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Increasing accessibility
AI technology can empower people living with limited physical mobility. Microsoft’s AI for Accessibility program uses the potential of AI to develop solutions to many physical and cognitive challenges disabled individuals face at work and in daily life to promote social inclusion for them. Microsoft’s initiative is aimed at increasing independence and productivity for disabled people in employment, daily life, and communication.
AI-powered self-driving cars have also proved to be very helpful for increasing mobility for house-bound individuals with disabilities. Autonomous technologies developed by Uber, Lyft, Waymo, and others could eliminate physical isolation for such people and promote a more social lifestyle. Using driverless cars enables disabled people to leave the house, get around their communities, interact with people, and even find work. Self-driving cars could facilitate independent mobility, and increased accessibility adapted to each user’s abilities and needs.
AI solutions provide disabled individuals with new ways to interact with the world and help them achieve more inclusion, accessibility, and independent living.
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