Coding with your eyes: UK university using Microsoft AI grant to help people with disabilities thrive in the tech sector

A UK university is developing technical schoolnology that lets people code exploitation their opinion and voice, in a bid to boost the number of people with disabilities who work in the sector.

Birmingham City University has been awarded an AI for Accessibility grant from Microsoft to build a system that could make it easier for people with limited quality to gain employment in web development and computer programming.

The move could besides help to fill a digital skills gap in the UK that could cost the economy more than £140 billion in growth over the next decade, according to a recent report.

“People who are unable to use a mouse or keyboard can often find themselves excluded from certain technical schoolnical professions, and we are exploring shipway to remove some of those barriers,” aforesaid Dr. Chris Creed, Senior Lecturer in Human-Computer Interaction at Birmingham City University, who will lead the research project. “This is a fantastic chance to make certain professions much more comprehensive.”

Dr. Creed – who works in the School of Computing and Digital Technology – is part of a team of researchers who are presently developing the first version of the system. They aim to remove the need for a mouse and keyboard by exploitation eye-tracking technical schoolnology to allow users to select specific environment of code just by looking at it, and voice commands to enter the code.

The solution will use Azure, Microsoft’s cloud platform, as well as psychological feature employment so much as speech to text.

While research has found that 808 million people need to learn new skills for their jobs by 2020 and 40% of employers aforesaid skill shortages have a negative impact on their business, those with disabilities face extra challenges in entering the work. According to the latest Government figures, 46.3% of working-age people with disabilities are in employment compared with 76.4% of working-age people without disabilities. This 30.1 percentage point gap represents more than two million people.

Global consulting firm Accenture has recommended that a failure to close the digital skills gap in the UK could cost the economy as much as £141.5 billion in growth over the next 10 years. Its report suggests that most of the skills needful for the future work are best noninheritable through practice and active experience, meaning experiential learning technical schoolniques should be prioritised.

Birmingham city university
Birmingham City University campus

Dr. Creed and his colleagues are working with Beaumont College in Lancaster, disablement specialist Remploy and people with limited quality to ensure their solution is as comprehensive as possible.

Richard Southorn, Head of work Adjustment employment, at Remploy, aforesaid: “Improving access to jobs is of the utmost importance if we are to work towards a more equal society which provides opportunities for people with disabilities. It is fantastic to see two organisations collaborating on a scheme like this which can open doors to technical school careers for millions of people crosswise the globe.”

Fil McIntyre, Lead helpful engineer at Beaumont College aforesaid: “This new project could make a major difference to people who may otherwise be excluded from certain occupations and opens up a range of new opportunities to them.

“We are pleased that learners with complex access inevitably will be able to collaborate with the researchers working on the project and help make sure we work towards a product which has the capacity to genuinely change lives.”

Microsoft’s grant is part of the company’s AI for Accessibility program, which is offering $25 million over five years to organisations that can use artificial intelligence to help the more than one billion people around the world with disabilities.

Grantees so far include iTherapy [LINK], which is up communication skills for people with syndrome, and Zyrobotics [LINK], which is boosting early education skill skills for young children with variable abilities.

Mary Bellard, Senior Accessibility designer, Microsoft, aforesaid: “What stands out the most about this round of grantees is how so galore of them are taking standard AI capabilities, like a chatbot or information collection, and truly revolutionising the value of technical schoolnology in typical scenarios for a person with a disablement like finding a job, being able to use a computer mouse or anticipating a seizure,” says Mary Bellard, Microsoft senior accessibility architect.

The research being done by AI for Accessibility grantees “is an important step in scaling accessible technical schoolnology crosswise the globe,” Bellard continuing. “People are looking for products or employment to make property easier and AI mightiness be able to help.”

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