Autonomous Accessibility

Anna Otieno, Head of Research, Strategy & Insights

Carli Gernot, Content Development Specialist

What’s Up

OpenAI, creator of GPT-4, has partnered with Be My Eyes to integrate AI into virtual assistance tools. Be My Eyes is a free app that connects sighted volunteers and professionals with those in need of visual assistance. Blind and low vision users ask sighted assistants to describe what their phone sees. In 2022, we wrote about a collaboration between Barilla and Be My Eyes which allowed grocery shoppers to use the app to talk to pasta experts. Now, the app is introducing a Virtual Volunteer tool that is available to provide AI-powered help at any time.

On March 8, Microsoft announced the 13th Microsoft Ability Summit, which highlighted the company’s products and services being launched to advance accessibility. Improvements include:

  • Microsoft’s Seeing AI app introduced Indoor Navigation, which allows blind and low vision users follow auditory visual spatial clues to navigate through a building independently.
  • New adaptive accessories, including the ability to customize tablet pens with 3D printed grips, allow users with mobility issues to more easily hold and use the pen.
  • Microsoft 365 will now have an “Accessibility Assistant,” an AI-powered tool meant to help creators ensure content is accessible by providing real-time guidance to address, avoid, and correct accessibility issues.
  • Microsoft Translator has added 13 African languages, including Yoruba, Hausa, and Igbo. The app now supports speech-to-text capabilities in 125 languages.
  • The Inclusive Design for Cognition Guidebook is now available to help build projects and content for different levels of cognitive ability.
  • Updates to Windows 11 support more Braille users, including three new Surface displays from HumanWare.

What It Means

More consumers are beginning to accept AI, even if they remain suspicious. According to a Morning Consult survey from February 2023, 52% of consumers are convinced that AI is here to stay. Only 10% of adult respondents say they believe AI to be “very trustworthy,” another 11% say they find generative AI output to be “not at all trustworthy,” while 80% lie somewhere in the middle or are undecided.

Features that improve accessibility have the power to help legitimize AI-powered tools and services and lead to more trust around the new technology. This increased support of using AI to build a more accessible and inclusive digital world will help more consumers feel safer in exploring these new methods of engagement.

RSI’s 2023 Trend Prediction Gimme Artificial! ... Intelligence looks at how immersive experiences provide the chance for brands and consumers to explore the omni-verse and optimize e-commerce engagement. Features that increase digital and virtual accessibility for consumers with disabilities and those that prioritize inclusion in the virtual world help brands welcome more shoppers into all types of e-commerce environments.

Subscribe to
New Engen Insights