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Artificial Intelligence

Shattering disability barriers with AI breakthroughs

Individuals’ requirements change over time; AI can be adjusted to continue providing effective support



Of late, Artificial intelligence (AI) has been gaining prominence in helping people with disabilities. This is because it has the potential to revolutionise how they interact with the world, improving accessibility, independence, and overall quality of life.  

Did you know that AI technologies can be tailored to meet the specific needs of individuals with disabilities? This means that the person can have more personalised assistance and support. This could, in turn, involve creating custom communication tools, mobility aids, or assistive devices that cater to their unique requirements.

In 2022, a report in a reputed global newspaper said that AI had helped a 45-year-old man who had been unable to speak for 27 years to communicate thanks to an AI-powered device. The man, who has Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis was fitted with the device, called the BrainGate, in 2022. The device uses electrodes implanted in the brain to translate his thoughts into speech.

However, BrainGate is not the only device that can be used to help people to speak. There are a few similar devices.

EyeSpeak: It uses eye-tracking technology to allow users to select letters and words on a screen. The user can then speak by blinking their eyes. The device has been used by people with a variety of disabilities, including cerebral palsy, ALS, and stroke.

PicaBot: It uses a robotic arm to type out words that the user can then speak. It is designed for people who have difficulty speaking due to a physical disability like spinal cord injury.

AI-powered speech assistance devices can provide a valuable way for people with disabilities to communicate. These devices can help people stay connected with their loved ones, participate in school or work, and live more independent lives.

In addition to these specific devices, there are several other ways that AI is being used to help people with disabilities speak. For example, AI can be used to develop new speech therapy techniques, to create more natural-sounding speech synthesizers, and to improve the accuracy of voice recognition software.

Accessibility: AI can play a crucial role in improving accessibility. It can automatically generate captions for videos, provide text-to-speech and speech-to-text capabilities, and enhance screen readers for people with visual impairments. This makes digital content and information more accessible to individuals who might otherwise struggle to interact with it.

Mobility assistance: AI-driven mobility devices and exoskeletons can empower individuals with mobility impairments to move around more independently. These devices use sensors and algorithms to adapt to the user’s movements and provide the necessary support.

Cognitive support: AI can provide cognitive support for people with cognitive disabilities. This might involve reminders, prompts, and scheduling assistance to help with daily tasks and routines.

Health monitoring: AI-powered wearable devices can monitor vital signs and health indicators, alerting both users and caregivers to potential health issues. This is especially beneficial for individuals with disabilities who may have specific medical needs.

Empowerment and independence: AI technologies can empower individuals with disabilities to lead more independent lives by reducing their reliance on caregivers. This fosters a sense of autonomy and self-confidence.

Social inclusion: AI can facilitate social inclusion by helping individuals with disabilities interact more effectively with others, both online and offline. This can combat feelings of isolation and improve overall mental well-being.

Customisation and adaptation: AI allows for rapid customisation and adaptation of solutions to individual needs. This means that as individuals’ requirements change over time, AI can be adjusted to continue providing effective support.

Shalini is an Executive Editor with Apeejay Newsroom. With a PG Diploma in Business Management and Industrial Administration and an MA in Mass Communication, she was a former Associate Editor with News9live. She has worked on varied topics - from news-based to feature articles.