Arizona-based web accessibility company AudioEye this week issued a press release in which they announced findings related to how generative AI can impact the disability community. The study examined the “effectiveness and impact of generative AI on identifying, fixing, and communicating accessibility issues that typically require expert review.”
According to AudioEye, the use of generative AI tools “[reduced] the time required to assess and correct a complex accessibility issue—such as determining whether a link is clear and accurate—by up to ten times.” Moreover, the company noted, by its automative nature, AI is a more “scalable solution” to addressing accessibility problems that otherwise would necessitate “time-consuming human analysis.” AudioEye is enthusiastic in how the study’s findings illustrate “tremendous potential for the responsible use of AI when combined with human expertise.”
“These results [of the study] demonstrate strong potential for using generative AI when paired with the right expertise and guidance,” said Diego De La Cruz, a digital accessibility expert who conducts testing for AudioEye’s customers, in a statement included in the press release. “What sets this pilot study apart is the direct involvement of members of the disability community, who rely on assistive technologies such as screen readers and keyboard navigation, in identifying the potential of AI. There is a lot of excitement in the community about what we learned here and how it can inform and speed up improvements in the future.”
In a statement provided to me this week, AudioEye chief executive officer David Moradi said in part “the disability community has not been given its rightful place as part of the solution in fixing digital accessibility issues at scale and is rightfully frustrated,” while adding disabled people are “the only ones” who are able to realistically set the bar for success.
He continued: “That’s the North Star for artificial intelligence: when someone with a disability can’t tell the difference between an experience hand-crafted by an accessibility expert, and one created by an expert-trained AI. That’s the only bar that will let anyone claim they’ve ‘solved’ digital accessibility at scale with AI. And make no mistake, it’s a very high bar. The only way we’ll meet it is by involving the disability community from day one, getting continuous feedback, and actively investing to improve our capabilities over time.”
Web accessibility is a pressing matter for the disability community in terms of equality and barriers to access. AudioEye has reported in the past that 98% of the million most popular webpages are inaccessible.
AudioEye has been the subject of coverage in this column before. Tony Coelho, the retired Democratic congressman from California who is credited with pioneering the Americans with Disabilities Act and who I interviewed in 2020, sits on AudioEye’s board of directors.
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