Deploying Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to Improve ADA Accessibility

26 Feb 2020

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are behind many of our daily interactions on the Internet. Browse shopping recommendations in your Amazon account or click Tab to allow Gmail to complete a phrase, and you’re experiencing artificial intelligence and machine learning at work.

Yet, as journalist Laura Johnson said in a 2019 article on Medium, “if thinking about an algorithm-powered tool directing some portion of our everyday experiences is rare, it’s even more rare that we think about how these tools affect users with disabilities.”

Johnson asks the important question: If AI/ML is used to improve general consumer experiences, can it do more to improve specific experiences? 

Could it work to improve automated accessibility testing tools?

With TruAbilities, the answer is yes.

AI/ML for ADA Accessibility on the Web

Johnson says that the potential AI and ML algorithms present can be looked at in three ways:

Mitigating data limitations – Machine learning consumes data to “learn,” so more data means better functionality. Firms in need of web accessibility solutions may not have the kind of data available to create the best solutions on their own, which is why a third-party tool such as the TruAbilities ADA accessibility widget comes into play. 

TruAbilities’ patent-pending technology accelerates the learning process for accessibility, ingesting massive amounts of data across client websites all over the country and utilizing that data safely and securely to deliver a more accessible web experience for users of all abilities.

Surpassing existing tools – Today, there are a lot of pre-existing tools that might be adapted to web accessibility solutions. For example, image captioning is already being improved by sites like Facebook, which contextualizes the images, and Microsoft, which has its AI for Accessibility Program at work that will offer “a public data resource specifically geared to accessibility needs that can be used to power AI captioning tools.”

TruAbilities is purpose-built for accessibility, deploying AI/ML for the specific benefit of ADA web accessibility.

Real-time remediation – Legacy accessibility tools such as screen readers rely on existing site content and structure to interpret information for their customers, so insufficient website infrastructure can persist in excluding visitors who have disabilities.

TruAbilities leverages AI/ML to overcome that challenge, allowing users with disabilities to access site content that would have otherwise been inaccessible.

Addressing the Challenges

As we see, there is a lot of potential in machine learning and AI as problem-solvers for those who require screen readers and accessibility tech. As the article in Medium noted, though, many are stuck using outdated assistive tech that lacks compatibility. This leaves many organizations at a great disadvantage; finding themselves straddling “the line between being both cutting edge and backwards compatible in order to remain accessible. 

This backwards compatibility adds significant cost, and for organizations without the mandate or budget, tends to be deprioritized. In turn, this limits exposure of content, advantaging organizations with deeper pockets.”

If that sounds all too familiar, TruAbilities offers a straightforward solution.

With subscription-based plans that are based on your website’s number of unique visitors – not page views – TruAbilities has created a next-generation ADA accessibility widget that scales to your business and works even on turnkey web platforms such as WordPress and Squarespace.

Address your web accessibility needs with intelligent solutions from TruAbilities and enhance your site’s digital accessibility now.