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AI is talking back to help disabled people

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a hot topic right now. Everyone seems to be talking about it, and now AI is talking back!

People in the UK who have a visual impairment can now use the newly-launched free Microsoft Seeing AI  ‘talking camera’ app to navigate the world around them.

The app uses AI to recognise people, text and objects and describes them to the user to help them get a clear idea of who and what is around them.

The app aims to help the two million-plus people in the UK who have visual impairments complete everyday tasks and increase their independence.

The development of the app in the UK was led by Saqib Shaikh, who is visually impaired. He told Charity Digital News: “Since launching Seeing AI, it’s been amazing to see how people with visual impairments have been using the app to increase their independence, and we are excited to bring the app to the UK – my home country.

“At Microsoft, we aim to empower every person and every organisation on the planet to achieve more, and Seeing AI achieves this in a very real sense.

“As someone who is visually impaired, this has become a key tool in my daily life, and I look forward to others in the UK benefitting from it, too.”

The launch of this app shows how AI is now beginning to be widely used across different areas of society, no more so than in accessible design and user experience.

The inaugural TechShare Pro 2017, a new digital accessibility and user experience conference for digital design professionals, launched last week (23/11/2017).

At the sold out one-day conference, which was organised by AbilityNet* and RNIB and sponsored by Barclays, IBM, Microsoft, OrCam and Storm Technologies, much of the focus was on AI and machine learning.

It could transform the lives of the world’s one billion disabled people and experts from organisations like Google, Barclays, IBM and the BBC discussed the impact of AI now and in the future.

TechShare Pro 2017 also marked the formal launch of the UK chapter of the International Association of Accessibility Professionals (IAAP).

The IAAP UK Chapter was founded by AbilityNet, Atos, Barclays, Lloyds and TextHelp, and it promotes certification and the raising of professional standards in accessibility.

To find out more about what happened at TechShare Pro 2017 you can watch live recordings of the conference on AbilityNet’s website.

*AbilityNet is a client of Big Voice Communications.