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The Future Looks Bright Because of AI

Blog Header: The Future Looks Bright Because of AI
Blog Header: The Future Looks Bright Because of AI

When you think of artificial intelligence, what is your first thought? Are you concerned about the integrity of artists or worried about safety and privacy? Are you excited about the growing tech sector and how that impacts the economy or fueled to learn how to create cool new graphics and imagery?


Whatever your feelings, they are valid. All new technology comes with pros and cons, and AI is no exception.


At First Aid for the Blind, we are excited about the prospects of AI in regard to accessibility for disabled people, specifically those who are blind and visually impaired. Because of AI, our society can rapidly develop assistive technologies and other tools that will help those with vision impairments to navigate the world more easily and effectively.


There are a number of ways AI can help blind individuals. Here is a list of just a few of these helpful improvements.


Internet Navigation


The world wide web grows at an exponential rate, with new webpages and date being added at every moment (literally). As a society, we rely on the internet for all kinds of information, from recipes and entertainment to travel and education. We take for granted how easy it is to look up showtimes, Google bits of pop culture trivia, or check the weather forecast.


For blind individuals who are not used to using hot keys and screen readers, navigating many websites is slow and cumbersome. Luckily, AI might break through some of that work.


At Ohio State University, researchers are using live websites to create online agents, which act as “AI helpers” to perform tasks online. These online agents have a superb ability, thanks to large language models like ChatGPT, to glean information about website layouts and functions and then perform tasks like following someone on social media or booking a flight.


While these tasks might seem simple and straightforward, they could be incredibly difficult for someone who cannot easily see the screen and navigate through headers, buttons, text, images, etc. Hopefully, further development of this technology will allow blind people to confidently use the internet with ease.



Accessibility Apps


Artificial intelligence is incredibly handy when put into a nifty accessibility app. When these apps – often free and available to all who need them – solve problems and improve the quality of life for people, we should be thankful to live in a day and age with such amazing technology.


Here are a few apps to consider:


Seeing AI: This app can narrate what someone might see through their phone’s camera lens. It uses AI to identify products, describe photos, etc.

Be My AI: This app is similar to Seeing AI. It is powered by Be My Eyes, a worldwide network of sighted volunteers helping blind and low-vision people complete various tasks. FAFTB actually tested this app recently – click here for more details.

Evelity: This app can help blind and vision-impaired people find their way around busy or crowded places by accurately describing what is around them.


Alternative Text


Alternative text is wording that describes a picture, graphic, or other imagery. Websites are making it easier to input alternative text, and it’s becoming a standard practice for more and more businesses. AI can help this process by more accurately describing images and the contexts in which they are used. For example, the Harvard Business Review notes that Microsoft’s Bot Framework provides guidelines and features that support the inclusion of alternative text.


As you can see, the power of AI can be incredibly positive for people who are disabled or differently-abled. AI is making basic processes like facial recognition, voice recognition, screen reading, closed captioning, and text-to-speech tools faster and more accurate, which is great for everyone, but especially for people who rely on these tools to navigate the world around them and perform basic, everyday tasks.


Internet safety and privacy should always be considered, of course, but with proper regulation and good sense, artificial intelligence can open up the world for those without sight. At FAFTB, we hope AI technology will continue to be developed and improved so that everyone can live life to the fullest.




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