11 Oct The Asian Para Games, AI, and Accessibility for All
Earlier this week was the opening of the 2018 Asian Para Games. These games are important because of their overall symbolic meaning as proof of the goals that can be achieved by differently abled people, who might’ve been told otherwise their entire lives, as well as tearing down barriers in order to step closer towards creating a more inclusive society, and raising awareness for people with special needs. Not only does the event put differently abled people in the spotlight, providing them an arena to showcase their athletic talents, but brings forth a spirit of awareness from the audience and spectators, going beyond national pride and towards an importance in inclusivity in seeing these differently abled athletes excel. In order to make the country suited to hosting the Asian Para Games, Indonesia has introduced infrastructure to accommodate the differently abled athletes, such as providing 300 Transjakarta buses with disability access.
A grand event that showcases the athletic talents of para-athlets isn’t the only way to raise awareness. Policies that create a prevalence of infrastructure that allows people of all ranges of mobility and physical and mental ability creates a culture that normalizes productivity and activity in differently abled people. We can take the example of the Para Asian Games and the infrastructure changes and apply them in a micro scale to the workplace, where in fact, as articles from Forbes and studies by the US Department of Labor show, it really doesn’t take much to create a culture of inclusion in the workplace. Many of the changes made in the name of inclusivity wouldn’t cost the company anything, including allowing flexible hours and work-from-home policies, or allowing the employees to wear clothing most comfortable to their needs while still conforming to company regulations.
As workplaces take steps to include AI to make more efficient their daily functions, they could also use this AI to create a more efficient workplace for not only their differently abled employees, but those who aren’t. AI that has been implemented to assist differently abled employees. For example, Accenture India has already developed AI to assist employees with vision problems, and Microsoft is investing in technologies such as Microsoft Translator, that will allow AI to empower those who are deaf or hard-of-hearing. As stated by Microsoft CLO Brad Smith, ‘By ensuring that technology fulfills its promise to address the broadest societal needs, we empower everyone – not just individuals with disabilities – to achieve more.”
Photo by Arisa Chattasa on Unsplash