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Artificial Intelligence: Creating More Accessibility in Companies

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Artificial Intelligence (AI) is already providing relief in many aspects of everyday life. Whether it’s writing texts with ChatGPT, creating appealing visuals with Midjourney, or producing videos with tools like Canva. Soon, it might take on another important role: The platform for digital quality assurance, Applause, has delved into how artificial intelligence can help break down digital barriers within companies. Discover why this is urgent beyond just improving the user experience for consumers.

EU Accessibility Act starting in 2025

Digital offerings are not always fully accessible to all consumers. People with visual impairments, hearing impairments, or cognitive limitations often have no or only partial access to digital services. In an effort to change this, the EU introduced the European Accessibility Act (EAA). According to the European Commission, it mandates that “products and services of daily life must be accessible to people with disabilities.” The EAA sets rules to facilitate access for people to public transport, banking services, computers, televisions, e-books, online shops, and so forth. EU member states are expected to implement these regulations by June 28, 2025.

AI EU laws and accessbility in companies (1)

Why Accessibility Matters

As highlighted by the software developer Eye-Able, companies enhance their reach, improve user experience, and potentially increase their revenues by complying with the European Accessibility Act rather than incurring expenses. Non-compliance with the EAA could lead to fines of up to €100,000.

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Reducing Digital Barriers with AI

However, there is significant room for improvement regarding internet accessibility. The State of Digital Quality 2023 Report by Applause identified over 30,000 accessibility issues within a one-year testing period. Applause continually evaluates progress in digital accessibility. Julia Zacharias, SVP Customer Operations & Accessibility Practice Lead EMEA at Applause, reveals the potential of Artificial Intelligence within organizations: “Internally, AI offers numerous opportunities to make organizations more accessible for existing and future employees. This includes creating accessible job portals, using AI to check texts for possible biases or complex content, as well as summarizing and providing voice output to describe documents.”

Making Products and Services Accessible

AI is already widely applied and offers the potential to expand offerings: “Artificial intelligence is a helpful tool, especially in making digital products and services accessible to more people. Examples include automatically generating alternative text for images or subtitles for videos, as well as recognizing individual speech patterns, for instance, in voice-assisted online shopping… Similarly, AI can enhance existing assistive technologies like voice commands or eye-tracking for navigating digital content.” In the latter two cases, users control via voice (Voice Command) or rely on tracking their eye movements (Eye-Tracking).

AI EU laws and accessbility in companies

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Can AI Handle Everything Alone?

Currently, it still requires human verification. “It is crucial that AI applications are complemented by manual input and verification. Additionally, an inclusive mindset should be the starting point for such efforts. People with disabilities should be involved in all phases, from market research and design to testing and regular feedback loops,” states Zacharias.

Everyday Accessible Access

Digital accessibility is already prevalent in our daily lives, benefiting both people with and without disabilities. Systems like iOS and Android offer features such as VoiceOver, haptic feedback, or the ability to enlarge icons. Voice assistant Alexa also contributes. The PlayStation 5 allows adjustments for console and controller accessibility. It’s a positive trend, yet the pace of progress remains in question. A considerably stronger implementation, even before 2025, would be desirable.

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