Do you know that Apple and Google are among the Tech Giants that have committed to improving accessibility for customers?
A project at the University of Illinois at Urbane-Champaign that aims to make voice assistants like Siri more accommodating to people with disabilities has received support from several significant tech companies. Omid Armin/Unsplash) some of the biggest names in technology are working on a new project to make smartphones and other devices more accessible to people with disabilities.
The Speech Accessibility Project is a research initiative at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign that aims to help make voice recognition technology more useful for people with various disabilities. To support the project, Amazon, Apple, Google, Meta, and Microsoft are collaborating with several nonprofit organizations. Currently, people with Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, and other conditions that can affect speech patterns are not always understood by voice assistants and translation tools like Siri and Alexa. A new initiative aims to correct this disparity by utilizing machine learning and artificial intelligence.
The Speech Accessibility Project will gather speech samples from a variety of individuals to train machine learning models. According to those who are in charge of the Speech Accessibility Project, every tech company that has pledged support for the initiative has committed to using the data that is gathered through the initiative to enhance the voice recognition services they provide.
Mark Hasegawa-Johnson, the project’s leader and professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, stated, “The option to connect and control devices with speech is critical to anyone interacting with technology or the digital economy today.”People with disabilities, as well as everyone else, should be able to use speech interfaces.
Major technology companies have attempted to enhance voice recognition for disabled individuals before. Google asked people with disabilities to assist them in testing a program that was made to better understand the speech patterns of disabled people. In addition, the business collaborated with the Canadian Down Syndrome Society in 2019 to collect speech samples from adult Down syndrome sufferers to program the algorithm to better comprehend their distinctive speech patterns.