Back to all articles

May 1, 2024 - 6 minutes

Navigating the World of Accessible AI

Creating accessible AI systems is a key part of the AI revolution.

Ironhack - Changing The Future of Tech Education

Artificial Intelligence

Interested in AI? Check out our AI School and get 30% off your first course!

You’ve heard about using artificial intelligence to improve automation or processing, but it’s possible that accessibility hasn’t been at the forefront of your take on AI. After all, with all the cool stuff that AI can do capturing your attention, it’s easy for accessibility to take a backseat. 

However, accessibility is extremely important and within AI, we have two matters to consider: one, how to use AI to better accessibility across the board, providing more users with access to content, and two, how to ensure that AI tools are accessible to all needs and that this is at the forefront of all AI system design. 

Therefore, as an up and coming AI professional, understanding the role accessibility plays in these two aspects of AI is essential and in this blog post, we’ll first review what exactly accessibility means and how to ensure it’s at the forefront of your work in AI. 

Let’s dive right in.

The Importance of Accessibility

When you hear about accessibility, you may first think about captions on videos or voice descriptions for images, but the reality is that accessibility goes far beyond these two examples (although they are quite important!). Something that is accessible is in reach of all users, regardless of any disability, barrier, or difficulty. 

To explain further the wide range of factors to keep in mind when considering accessibility in your products, we’ve compiled a list of some of the different types of accessibility: 

  • Visual accessibility: for those who are visually impaired or blind, ensuring that there are alternatives to visuals, such as dictation or low-contrast options, help everyone access the information.

  • Motor accessibility: including wheelchair-friendly installations so that all users can safely navigate is key, in addition to providing options for online designs for users that cannot click, drag, or hover over on-screen features. 

  • Auditory accessibility: any feature that requires users to listen to information or instructions need to also be visible in a written form for those with auditory difficulties. 

  • Learning accessibility: people comprehend and digest information in different ways and designs and products need to be adjusted for their audience, using appropriate language, spacing, and summaries to ensure that all users can properly comprehend the information. 

  • Financial accessibility: high price tags or requiring the possession of expensive tools creates barriers to entry and as AI tools become increasingly widespread, they need to be available to absolutely everyone–not just those who can afford the expensive systems. 

  • Environmental accessibility: environmental accessibility refers to a person’s surroundings and this could include their internet access, WiFi speed, or loading time; products and designs need to take these changing factors into account when creating an AI system. 

There are lots of accessibility concerns to take into account when creating basically everything, but it’s especially crucial in AI. Why? Because artificial intelligence has the potential to significantly advance our society in terms of what we can do, but only if and when these systems and tools are accessible by all. If we move forward with AI advancements and leave these accessibility concerns behind, we will be alienating large groups of people. 

Artificial intelligence should work for people and not against them; it’s essential to keep this at the forefront of your mind when diving into AI. 

With a clearer understanding of accessibility in AI and what to keep an eye out for, let’s dive right into the good stuff: how we can use AI to better accessibility and ensuring AI tools are accessible to all. 

Using AI to Better Accessibility 

As you’re well aware, the potential of AI is incredible: from cracking jokes to automating tedious processes, our lives can definitely be better with the help of AI. But AI can also do good, assisting us with creating more accessible and wide-reaching products and systems that bring more and more people into the fold, regardless of their barriers to entry. 

Although there’s so much information and stuff out there to access, not everyone has the equal ability to see, use, and take advantage of it. But with the help of artificial intelligence, accessibility can take a giant step forward:

  • Visual accessibility: AI can use text-to-word technology to read written content to the user or even describe images or visuals so that they can get the full experience. And while humans can definitely take the time to include alternative texts or these descriptions in their products and designs, AI can automatically do this quite accurately, making it more likely that a wide range of companies choose to employ this option and make their content more accessible. 

  • Auditory/language accessibility: with the help of machine learning technology and natural language processing, companies can have more accurate captions or translations on videos so that users, regardless of their auditory disability or language knowledge, can access the same information. 

  • Mobility accessibility: thanks to voice control, hands-free navigation can be enabled on websites so that users who can’t perform typical functions with a keyboard or mouse can still browse and access the same information as every other user. 

Ensuring AI Tools are Accessible to All 

Using artificial intelligence to make tools and systems more accessible to all users is only one part of the equation: if the AI tools themselves aren’t accessible to all, how will they be effective? And if specific groups are unable to access AI tools, does that go against the ethical guidelines that direct our AI usage? 

It’s straightforward: for AI tools to be accessible, they must be usable by everyone. And while you might be thinking of vision or mobility restrictions, the field AI demands we focus on another area as well: technical knowledge. 

In order for artificial intelligence tools to be ethically used, everyone, regardless of their tech knowledge or experience with computers must be able to use them. Otherwise, another barrier to entry has been created and the AI experience will be limited to those who can afford expensive courses or computer systems. 

To ensure your AI tools are accessible to all, consider these points: 

  • Favor free or low-cost tools: the high price tag of AI tools may deter potential users from using it; prioritize using tools that don’t require a significant financial investment so that anyone can take advantage of it. 

  • Prioritize diversity in the training process: AI machines learn from those who train them and to accurately represent the experience of those around them, diversity should be a primary pillar during the design process.

  • Make it easy to learn: overly complicated designs or tools that require a deep knowledge of tech to make them work prevent those who don’t have a tech background from accessing them; provide clear instructions as to how the tools work to ensure that everyone can learn and use them.

  • Enforce a transparent report system: just like with any tool, problems will arise, and users need to know who to go to in case they find a problem. In addition, there needs to be someone accountable for the AI system who knows how it was trained and how to fix any errors. 

The potential of artificial intelligence is incredible–however, professionals who are dedicated to ensuring that it’s accessible and benefits every single human are sorely needed. And that’s exactly why Ironhack’s AI School is here to help you learn the necessary skills for bringing the power of AI to your career–all on your own time.

Check out our courses and discover where your potential lies today. 

Related Articles

Recommended for you

Ready to join?

More than 10,000 career changers and entrepreneurs launched their careers in the tech industry with Ironhack's bootcamps. Start your new career journey, and join the tech revolution!