Artificial Intelligence, Accessible and Assistive Technologies

Artificial intelligence (AI) has been around for at least 70 years, as have digital technologies and yet the hype around AI in recent years has begun to make us wary of its use in our daily lives.  The increased speed of data crunching and evermore complex algorithms has boosted the potential for these systems to be used in ways that can be helpful to us all.  However, the black box nature of AI is alarming, with its lack of transparency, although it has enormous potential to make digital content, services and systems more accessible and assistive for people with disabilities. The fact that it is possible to collect ever-increasing amounts of data related to ourselves as well as our environment has proven to be exciting and disturbing.  The concerns around diversity, equity, and inclusion are real.  Image recognition does not always work when it comes to identifying those who may have disabilities and chat bots do not always offer the sort of help requested when a problem arises.  On the other hand, taking a positive stance, there are times when this data can be used with algorithms that offer more accurate navigation around our streets for those who are blind and helpful text summarisation when reading complex articles. There are clever Natural Language Processing (NLP) and prediction models being used for language translation and speech recognition, not only helping those who speak another language but also those with complex communication needs. Automatic video and audio transcripts and captions have improved.  The latter may not be perfect and we have to accept that the machine learning, deep learning and neural networks can only do so much.  They still do not have conceptual understanding, consciousness or our ability to be creative and have spontaneous thought!This Special Thematic Session aims to encourage presenters to share their innovative thinking, provide refreshing appraisals related to the use of AI and all that goes into AI models to support those with disabilities in their use of accessible and assistive technologies. Here are some ideas for papers but please do not be limited by this list:

  • AI and Inclusion, where machine learning and algorithms can be used to enable equity for those with disabilities
  • The pros and cons of AI, highlighting why issues can arise for those with disabilities, even with the most meticulously designed systems.
  • The use of augmentative and assistive AI in applications to support those with disabilities
  • AI supporting all that goes into making access to online digital content easier.
  • Enhanced independence using virtual assistants and robots



  • E.A. Draffan, ECS Accessibility Team, Faculty of Physical Sciences and Engineering University of Southampton

  • Peter Heumader, Institute Integriert Stuideren, Johannes Kepler University Linz

Contributions to a STS have to be submitted using the standard submission procedures of ICCHP.
When submitting your contribution please make sure to select the right STS under "Special Thematic Session". Contributions to a STS are evaluated by the Programme Committee of ICCHP and by the chair(s) of the STS. Please get in contact with the STS chairs for discussing your involvement and pre-evaluation of your contribution. Submission Deadline for Contributions to STSs: April 15, 2020