The Use of AI Technologies in Relation to Web Accessibility

Artificial intelligence has been playing a significant role in digital technologies recently, including website accessibility. A lot of modern start-ups are developing web accessibility solutions using AI. However, several business owners do not feel very confident to use these solutions because they cannot grasp the concept entirely. 

People often get confused or intimidated by the terminologies used in relation to AI. For example, people may wonder whether data visualization should be considered while discussing the best accessibility practices for AI-based solutions.

Some people also get confused between AI and machine learning. For example, if the software is advertised as an AI-powered solution but is technically a machine learning product, would it still be a part of the AI ethical framework? The answer to both these questions is yes. 

AI Key Terms and Explanations

Let us look at some of the key terms used in relation to AI and their brief explanation.

  • Machine Learning (ML) is often confused with the same thing as AI. But the truth is that it is a subset of AI which tells the software what it needs to learn and how to learn it. Machine learning can take vital decisions and provide predictions with the help of neural networks.
  • Neural Network is a combination of algorithms that imitate the working patterns of the human neural system.
  • Deep Learning is a subset of machine learning where the neural networks communicate with huge amounts of data so that the software can perform tasks like image recognition or lip reading for automated closed captions.
  • Natural Language Processing (NLP) is a part of AI which uses machine learning to understand the meanings and uses of human languages. It allows the software to handle tasks like speech recognition and auto-translation.
  • Data Visualisation is used to present a visual representation of the results churned by machine learning. It is one of the quickest ways to summarise the information visually to analyze patterns and links.
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the science of imitating human abilities. It is a collection of technologies that recognizes patterns and gathers insights from a huge amount of data.

How Accessibility Benefits From AI Technologies

Several digital inclusion solutions are running on AI-powered technologies these days. Even though most of them get developed keeping people with disabilities in mind, not all of them work the same way or achieve similar results. Some of the aspects of these technologies include but are not limited to:

  • Using image recognition technology to add missing all text on pictures for screen reader support
  • Reading the lip movements on videos to generate automatic closed captions, transcriptions, and translations for people who are deaf or hard of hearing
  • Adjusting the web design elements for the benefit of people who suffer from epilepsy or ADHD
  • Shortening or summarising web content for people with ADHD
  • Optimizing or altering the visual elements on a website to become accessible to the visually impaired
  • Assisting with reading or focusing for those suffering from cognitive disorders
  • Using voice control for people with mobility issues
  • Offering facial recognition to handle authentication challenges for people with visual or memory-related disorders

AI and machine learning can be used to automate accessibility audits and make the necessary changes to your website to make the content accessible. However, most of the software using AI to achieve accessibility are SaaS (Software as a Service). The software uses API to correspond with accessibility data stored on a server elsewhere to audit and rectify the accessibility issues present on a website.

As we mentioned before, all of the AI-powered accessibility solutions do not provide the same results. We have noticed that most of them primarily focus on visual disabilities and often ignore the other forms of impairments. A lot of these solutions correspond with incomplete data, which often results in inaccurate alternative tests or closed captions.

That is why businesses must choose robust and scalable accessibility solutions like accessiBe and LAcces. The use of reliable solutions will ensure that the website becomes accessible to people with all forms of disabilities. The software also works for websites created without using a CMS (Content Management System) platform.

The Future of AI in Website Accessibility

Other than the well-known positive results achieved with AI developments, we can expect boundless possibilities in the future. As more and more companies integrate AI technologies for their digital offerings, they are bound to encounter some debates regarding ethics and accessibility.

For example, a parent might wonder how educational institutes will ensure that students with disabilities will be able to use AI-powered learning tools or environments. However, it is evident that using an inclusive attitude is essential when using any form of technology.

As far as AI for web accessibility is concerned, the software should use the current Web Content Activity Guidelines (WCAG 2.1) for reference. WCAG 2.1 might not include every form of disability in the world, but it is the most comprehensive guidelines we have as of now. With WCAG 2.2 and 3.0 in the pipeline, we can expect additional instructions for AI-powered accessibility solutions.

We hope that we have clarified some of the doubts you had regarding the use of AI for web accessibility. We also hope that we have given you some food for thought for a better decision-making process to choose the right solution.

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