Inequality in web accessibility hinders many, emphasizing the need for Artificial Intelligence to bridge the gap.
Copyright: graduateinequalityreview.com – Jeanella Klarys Pascual and Chad Patrick Osorio – “The Road to a More Accessible Web: Bridging the Inequality Gap with AI”
The United Nations has hailed the Internet as a catalyst for the promotion of human rights and a necessary component for the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals. However, the Digital Divide still remains, highlighting existing inequalities within the greater social sphere. A key factor that excludes certain populations from accessing the wealth of information available online is low web accessibility. Web accessibility refers to the ease of use of the Internet by persons with disabilities. This article proposes that this is an understudied dimension of inequality, both at the individual and societal level, potentially affecting 1.3 billion people in the world in varying degrees. It discusses how improving web accessibility can improve the lives not only of persons with disabilities but also the general social welfare as well. In line with this, it explores a number of artificial intelligence use cases which can be implemented to mitigate this pressing challenge. Finally, the article concludes that governments, industries, and academia should devote increased initiatives in how AI can be used towards improving web accessibility in order to bridge the Digital Divide and contribute to alleviating the global inequality gap.
The World Health Organization estimates that around 1.3 billion people worldwide live with disabilities, translating to 16% of the total global population (World Health Organization, 2023). Persons with disabilities (PWDs) often face stark inequality in various forms: from lower education levels, decreased employment rates, poorer health outcomes, and barriers to participation in daily life, among many others (Shandra, 2018). This affects their full enjoyment of human rights and hampers the global dream to meet the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). With the recent impact and lasting effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, these inequalities have only increased (United Nations, 2018). The search for solutions continues.
One potential tool to mitigate this situation is the Internet. Ever since its early days, many have hailed the Internet as ‘the great equalizer,’ leveling the playing field for all (Coombs, 1998). More recently, it has been lauded as a catalyst for the full exercise of human rights (UN Human Rights Council, 2013). It has also been named a key component to meeting the SDGs (United Nations, 2018). The Internet has ushered in the Age of Information, changing the economic, political, cultural, and even ecological systems of contemporary society (Fuchs, 2007).[…]
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