Businesses are continuously looking for ways to improve their customer experience and increase the accessibility of their brand and products. Many forward-thinking businesses have begun exploring ways to utilize artificial intelligence to make gains and are realizing the power of automated conversations. Conversational AI is transforming the way we communicate and making the digital world more accessible for everyone. In this blog, we explore the various ways in which Conversational AI can improve accessibility.
Why is accessibility important for businesses?
Accessibility is important for businesses because it ensures that all individuals, regardless of their abilities, have equal access to information, services, and opportunities. It promotes inclusivity, breaks down barriers, and empowers people to fully participate in society, fostering a more equitable and diverse world.
Aside from the ethical and legal obligations for businesses to make their products and solutions accessible, it also allows them to reach a wider customer base, including individuals with disabilities. By prioritizing accessibility, businesses can enhance customer satisfaction, improve brand reputation, and tap into new market segments, ultimately driving growth and fostering a more inclusive and socially responsible image.
Tools that help people with disabilities benefit everyone. For example, a hands-free voice assistant also benefits busy mothers, drivers, gamers, and anyone needing to multi-task.
What is Conversational AI?
Conversational AI, as exemplified by OpenDialog, harnesses the power of advanced artificial intelligence techniques to create virtual agents capable of engaging in natural and dynamic conversations with users. By leveraging natural language processing and machine learning, Conversational AI aims to revolutionize human-machine interactions, making them intuitive, efficient, and user-friendly, transforming the way we engage with technology and enriching our daily experiences.
How does Conversational AI improve accessibility?
Conversational AI is a transformative technology that significantly improves accessibility for individuals with disabilities. By leveraging voice assistants, real-time transcriptions, language translation, virtual assistants, and more, Conversational AI breaks down barriers and promotes inclusivity.
Voice assistants enable hands-free interaction, empowering people with mobility impairments and real-time transcriptions provide text-based captions, benefiting those with hearing impairments. Language translation services facilitate effective communication across languages and cultures, enhancing accessibility for individuals with language barriers. Virtual assistants offer audio cues and descriptions, assisting people with visual impairments. Conversational AI ensures equal opportunities and fosters accessibility, making the digital world more inclusive for all individuals, regardless of their abilities.
Case Study: Voice-Managed Access To Audiobook Catalogues On Alexa
What are some examples of accessibility improvements for businesses through Conversational AI?
Here is a list of ways that businesses can utilize Conversational AI to improve accessibility:
1. Customer Support
Conversational AI enables individuals to receive instant and personalized support around the clock, improving accessibility for people who may face challenges with traditional customer service channels.
For example, imagine a customer with a hearing impairment who needs assistance with a product on a retail website. Instead of making a phone call and struggling to communicate, they can engage with an AI powered chatbot on the company’s website. The chatbot understands their queries and provides relevant information or troubleshooting steps in text format, ensuring clear and accessible communication. This enables the customer to receive the support they need in a way that suits their abilities, improving the overall accessibility of the customer support experience.
2. Financial Accessibility
Conversational AI-powered virtual assistants assist individuals with disabilities in managing their finances, providing accessible banking services, and facilitating independent financial decision-making.
By offering a conversational interface, individuals with visual impairments or limited dexterity can navigate and interact with their financial accounts more easily, without relying solely on traditional visual interfaces or physical interactions.
Conversational AI also makes banking more accessible to all customers, saving them time by not having to go into the bank location or wait on hold to speak to someone in a call center. It can also support customers outside of normal business hours, meaning everyone can receive the service they need at their own convenience.
3. Document Accessibility
Conversational AI-powered document readers or text-to-speech capabilities make documents and written content such as product information or insurance documentation accessible to individuals with visual impairments, learning disabilities, or neurodivergencies.
Traditional screen readers primarily rely on the structured text and accessible elements already present in digital platforms, such as websites or applications whereas AI-powered document accessibility tools, utilizing optical character recognition (OCR), are specifically designed to process and convert text from documents such as PDFs, images, or scanned documents into accessible formats. The extracted text can then be converted into speech using text-to-speech technology, allowing individuals to listen to the contents of the document through a screen reader or other assistive devices.
4. Language Translation
Conversational AI empowers individuals with language barriers by offering instant translation services. Whether it’s translating text, voice, or even sign language, it enables effective communication across different languages and cultures.
For instance, a multinational e-commerce company that wants to expand its reach to customers around the world can offer real-time translation services on their website or through their chatbot. This allows customers to interact and receive support in their preferred language, even if they don’t speak the company’s primary language. By providing multilingual support, businesses can cater to a global audience, promote inclusivity, and enhance accessibility for customers who would otherwise face language-related challenges.
5. Cognitive Assistance
Conversational AI tools assist individuals with cognitive impairments by providing reminders, medication prompts, and daily routine assistance, promoting independence, health and well-being. The technology can also enable businesses to bridge the digital divide and ensure that older adults can independently and confidently engage with their services, promoting inclusivity and enhancing the overall accessibility of their offerings.
For example, anyone seeking assistance with online shopping can engage with a virtual assistant through voice or text, asking for recommendations based on their preferences or receiving step-by-step guidance for completing a purchase. The virtual assistant can provide clear explanations, simplify options, and offer reminders or prompts. This cognitive assistance reduces the cognitive load and potential confusion that may arise from traditional user interfaces.
6. Real-time Transcriptions
Conversational AI facilitates real-time transcriptions during meetings, presentations, and events, benefiting individuals with hearing impairments. By providing instant text-based captions, it ensures everyone can actively participate and understand the discussions.
Transcriptions can also benefit people without disabilities. For example, physician burnout can be alleviated through real-time transcriptions providing significant benefits to healthcare professionals. Automating the process of capturing and transcribing patient consultations or medical discussions relieves physicians from extensive note-taking so they can focus more on patient interaction. This not only leads to improved communication, it also ensures more accurate and comprehensive medical records.
How can businesses improve accessibility through Conversational AI?
Businesses can leverage the power of Conversational AI in promoting inclusivity and breaking down barriers through implementing solutions such as the above examples into their business using the OpenDialog platform.
OpenDialog adopts a unique approach to conversational design by utilizing a visual flow builder that allows developers and designers to create conversational experiences without the need for coding. This user-friendly interface empowers teams to design, prototype, and iterate conversational flows, while seamlessly integrating with advanced natural language processing (NLP) capabilities.
By combining a visual approach with powerful NLP, OpenDialog simplifies the process of building conversational AI, making it accessible to a wider range of users and enabling rapid development and deployment of interactive virtual agents. OpenDialog’s Conversation Designers emphasize the importance of explainability, clarity, inclusion, and awareness of bias in the design process and highlight the need for informed empathy, which is informed by diverse and equitable data collection and data sets.