IGF 2018 WS #172 Accessibility Improved: building inclusive societies with AI

Format: 

Other - 90 Min
Format description: Tech-powered campfire session

Organizer 1: Sophie Tomlinson, ICC BASIS
Organizer 2: Judith Ann Okite, FOSSFA
Organizer 3: Gonzalo Navarro, ALAI

Speaker 1: Gonzalo Navarro, Private Sector, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)
Speaker 2: Judith Ann Okite, Civil Society, African Group
Speaker 3: Chris Wilson, Private Sector, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 4: David MARTINON, Government, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 5: Susanna Laurin, Private Sector, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Additional Speakers: 

Dr. Olga Cavalli, Ministry Foreign Affairs, Argentina

Mr Nobuhisa Nishigata, Economist / Policy Analyst - Artificial Intelligence, OECD - International Organization, APAC

Relevance: 

The workshop will explore the ways in which Artificial Intelligence (AI) and other new and emerging technologies can be put to work to improve conditions for connectivity and accessibility of marginalized groups such as persons with disabilities, or the elderly. The workshop will consider the potential of AI to create solutions for new opportunities and assist people with disabilities and other marginalized groups to access the Internet and information and communication technologies (ICT) and establish or improve their professional, educational and human connections Invited experts will also explore the challenges of such developments, stemming from technical, but also economic, social, ethical, cultural and governance points of view. Invited speakers and participants will seek to identify the elements of an enabling policy environment that promotes the innovation and investment necessary for the development of these technologies.

Session Content: 

Issue: AI and the host of innovative emerging technologies included under this umbrella are one of the most popular and many times controversial topics of discussion when considering ICT and their potential for sustainable development. Stephen Hawking famously said: “Success in creating effective AI, could be the biggest event in the history of our civilization. Or the worst.”

This workshop aims to explore the ways in which these new technologies can be put to work to maximize their benefits, especially in improving connectivity and accessibility of marginalized groups such as persons with disabilities, with learning difficulties or the elderly. It will look into how AI can be used to reinvent the relationship between humans and technology to ensure that people with all abilities have equal access to technology and information.

Discussions: Today we are faced not just with the record pace with which new technologies emerge, but also with the exponentially growing demand for accessibility by people with disabilities or impairments. This trend will continue much faster as the aging demographic continues.

The workshop will consider the potential of AI to create solutions for new opportunities and assist people with disabilities and other marginalized groups to access the Internet and ICTs and establish or improve their professional, educational and human connections. Invited experts will also explore the challenges of such developments, stemming from technical, but also economic, social, ethical, cultural and governance points of view. In discussing these opportunities, invited speakers and participants will also seek to identify the policy elements necessary to create an enabling environment for innovation and investment in new technologies.

The agenda of the workshop will be built based on community participation facilitated by online tools, thus providing the opportunity for participants to drive the discussion.

Session format: The format will be a “Tech-powered campfire session”. The goal of a campfire session is to create an open forum in which the attendees generate the majority of the discussion and knowledge sharing. The session will open with short ice-breaker videos presenting innovative solutions to improve accessibility for person with disabilities, the elderly or with learning difficulties. These will capture the attention of the audience and link in the introductory remarks of the speakers/experts. For the remainder of the session, the speakers become facilitators, inviting comments and questions from those around the room and letting the audience dictate the ultimate direction of the conversation. Campfire sessions allow attendees to drive their own learning, listen to multiple perspectives on the same issue, and share experiences with individuals throughout the room. Online interaction technology tools will be explored to facilitate this format, by incorporating real-time polls and a platform where participants can share questions with the moderator and/or up-vote already asked questions to drive the flow of the discussion. Collecting the questions from the audience not just in-person in the room, but also online will help involve everyone at the same time (in-person, remote, extrovert, shy, differently abled).

Agenda: Although discussion and participants' contributions will ultimately drive the agenda, the following will be used to guide conversation:

  • The session will start with ice-breaker videos on innovative solutions to improve accessibility as well as a couple of quick polls on questions related to opportunities and barriers, and also misperceptions related to both AI and accessibility. This will involve all participants, attending in person and remotely.
  • The ice-breaker will introduce the subjects and facilitate the interventions of each invited speaker (3-5 mins each), thus starting off the session with opening statements from a diverse range of experts. Experts representing different stakeholder groups (see below) will be invited to explain how AI can be used to support accessibility as well as how people with disabilities use technology. Speakers will be encouraged to use concrete examples and/or personal experiences. (40 minutes)
  • Participants will share ideas on the probing factors which are posing challenges to access for people with disabilities and present ideas on how AI and emerging technologies could help bridge these gaps. Discussions will also touch on economic, social, technical and governance policy considerations. Speakers will become participants and the moderator will act as the main facilitator of discussions, inviting responses to comments and questions from those present in the room and remotely, letting the audience dictate the ultimate direction of the conversation. Participants will be able to use an online platform to submit questions and to up-vote or react to questions already submitted by others. The moderator will manage the discussion to ensure diverse interventions in person and remotely. (40 minutes).
  • Invited expert speakers will be given the opportunity to share brief final comments (5 minutes) before the moderator wraps up and summarizes main takeaways. (5 minutes)
  • Participants will further be encouraged to use online tools and social media to share their takeaways, links and information about case studies they presented to contribute to the reporting from the session.
Interventions: 

Speakers have been chosen to ensure geographic, gender, sector, and stakeholder group diversity. Each speaker will bring a unique perspective and experience to opportunities and challenges faced.

The session will be moderated by Ms Carolyn Nguyen, Director, Technology Policy at Microsoft. Her past activities have included policy initiatives on privacy, open/big data, machine learning, data ethics, the internet of things, intelligent systems, and their effects on existing social, economic, and policy frameworks. With this experience she is well equipped to moderate the discussion and incorporate the various perspectives presented by the invited speakers and the audience. 

Ms Susana Laurin, CEO, Funka will share her experiences from managing a company that provides consulting services on accessibility, including developing accessible websites. She will discuss how, by starting from the fact that all individuals have different abilities, it is possible to create a society that is accessible for all. She will also examine how cutting-edge technology and a close relationship with disability organisations can help ensure high quality of services provided.

Ms Judith Anne Okite, Founder, Association for Accessibility and Equality, Kenya as a former MAG member is familiar with Internet governance discussions and as an active advocate of the use of technology to empower and improve the lives of people with disabilities can offer a first-hand user perspective on the session’s topic.

Dr Olga Cavalli, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Argentina and Mr David Martinon, the Ambassador for Cyberdiplomacy and the Digital Economy of the Government of France will bring the perspectives of governments into the discussion, while at the same time approaching the subject from very different regional, socio-economic and cultural points of view.

Mr Christopher E. Wilson, Senior Manager, Public Policy, Amazon and Mr Gonzalo Navarro, Executive Director, Latin American Internet Association, will share private sector perspectives, incorporating different regional experiences, on steps businesses can take to improve accessibility for people with disabilities and the elderly by making use of the potential of artificial intelligence and emerging technologies.

The workshop’s success depends greatly on the various perspectives brought by audience participation; therefore the session will be advertised ahead of time to the various IGF communities active on this subject (DC on Accessibility and Disability, BPF on Gender and Access, CENB, BPF on AI, NRIs, etc.).

Diversity: 

This workshop aims to gather a variety of perspectives to address the question: How can AI be used to enable persons with disabilities, the elderly and those with learning difficulties to access, benefit from and contribute to the Internet and ICTs?

Each stakeholder group will be represented and speakers will represent different geographies, (including developing countries), cultures, genders and policy perspectives. All invited speakers were contacted and confirmed their interest in participating in the workshop. They represent perspectives of academia, the business community, civil society and government from Africa, Western Europe, as well as North and South America. The workshop is also organized by diverse a group of organizations representing different regions (Western Europe, Latin America and Africa) and stakeholder groups (business and civil society).

Diversity is further enhanced through the inclusion of a youth representative as online moderator.

Organizers also made an effort to secure participants from individual users, companies and the social and health sector who may not be involved in Internet governance activities but to whom this topic primarily relates. This will ensure introduction of new perspectives which have not been on the frontlines of IGF previously.

Gender balance has been encouraged through speaker choices and each speaker will bring unique expertise and experience to the topics discussed.

Organizers will build on experience organizing campfire sessions in the past and special attention will be made throughout the planning of the session to ensure diverse interventions from workshop participants can be facilitated both in person and remotely. Organizers will also encourage remote participation on social media and through technical tools to animate discussions for remote and in-person participants simultaneously.

Online Participation: 

The remote moderator will be involved throughout the workshop planning to advise on where remote participation will need to be facilitated. The moderator will frequently communicate with the remote moderator throughout the session to ensure remote participants’ views/questions are reflected.

As noted above, efforts will be made to use available online tools to animate discussions in the room and online simultaneously. Participants in the room will also be asked to use their mobile devices to connect and interact with remote participants.

Social media will also be used to generate wider discussion and create momentum for online participation as the workshop is unfolding. Co-organizers will ensure that the workshop is promoted in advance to the wider community to give remote participants the opportunity to prepare questions and interventions in advance and to generate interest in the workshop.

ICC BASIS will also ensure the workshop is promoted on the ICC BASIS website and via social media. Organizers will also explore the possibility of connecting with remote hubs around the globe and organize remote interventions from participants.

Discussion Facilitation: 

The list below provides examples of the ways discussion will be facilitated amongst speakers, audience members, and online participants and ensure the session format is used to its optimum:

Seating: Participants will sit in a circle (room permitting), with invited speakers dispersed within the audience, to underline the open format of the session. This will facilitate discussion by creating an enabling and comfortable atmosphere where all speakers and participants are given an equal footing in the discussion. The moderator will have a prominent seating position and may walk around the room to engage participants.

Tools: An online platform will be used to animate the discussion with real-time polls and to enable participants to react to each-other’s questions directly. Participants in the room and online will thus have an equal opportunity to engage. At the start of the session organizers will prepare an ice-breaker which will involve all participants by showing videos and polling attendees on questions related to the barriers/challenges/misperceptions related to both AI and accessibility. The ice-breaker will introduce the subjects and facilitate the interventions of each invited speaker, thus starting off the session with opening statements from a diverse range of experts. The moderator and experts will be encouraged to refer to the results of the ice-breaker throughout the workshop so that issues brought forward by participants at the start can be carried throughout the discussion.

Audio-visual material: Organizers will explore the use of visuals (i.e. videos, PowerPoint slides, images, infographics) not just for the ice-breaker, but also throughout the workshop to animate the session and aid those whose native language may not be English.

Preparation: A preparation call will be organised for all speakers, moderators and co-organisers in advance of the workshop so that everyone has a chance to meet, share views and prepare for the session. Given the varied background of discussants and audience members, organisers will advertise the session and introduce questions to animate discussion on social media in the run up to the workshop. This will introduce the subject, encourage conversation and create links to other dialogues on the topic taking place in other forums to create awareness and help prepare in-person and remote participants for the workshop. The moderator will have questions prepared in advance to encourage interaction among invited experts and between participants, if conversation were to stall.

In-person and online moderators: The moderator will be an expert and well-informed and experienced in animating multistakeholder discussions. During the open discussions, open-ended questions will be incorporated to encourage responses from participants and everyone will be given equal weight and equal opportunity to intervene. Sharing of case-studies, personal experiences and examples of best practices will especially be encouraged. Walk-in participants will be encouraged to participate in the discussion by the moderator who will seek contributions from participants in person and remotely. The remote moderator will play an important role in sharing the ideas of remote speakers/participants and will encourage interventions through video.

Reporting: Following the discussion, participants will be encouraged to share their key takeaways from the session through online tools and social media. This will help ensure diverse perspectives raised during the discussion are included in the reporting.

Onsite Moderator: 

Ms Carolyn Nguyen, Director, Technology Policy, Microsoft

Online Moderator: 

Sharada Srinivasan, University of Pennsylvania

Rapporteur: 

Ms Sophie Tomlinson, ICC BASIS

Report: 

Session Type (Workshop, Open Forum, etc.): Workshop

Title: WS #172 Accessibility Improved: building inclusive societies with AI

Date & Time: Tuesday, 13 November, 2018 - 11:50 to 13:20

Organizer(s): 

  • International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) Business Action to Support the Information Society (BASIS);
  • Association for Accessibility and Equality, Kenya;   
  • Latin American Internet Association (ALAI), Uruguay.

Chair/Moderator:

  • Ms Carolyn Nguyen, Director, Technology Policy, Microsoft - private sector, WEOG

Rapporteur/Notetaker:

  • Ms Sophie Tomlinson, ICC BASIS - private sector, WEOG

List of speakers and their institutional affiliations (Indicate male/female/ transgender male/ transgender female/gender variant/prefer not to answer):

  • Ms Olga Cavalli, Advisor, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Argentina - government, GRULAC
  • Ms Susanna Laurin, CEO, Funka, Sweden (remotely) - private sector, WEOG
  • Mr Gonzalo Navarro, Executive Director, Latin American Internet Association - private sector, GRULAC
  • Mr Nobuhisa Nishigata, Economist / Policy Analyst - Artificial Intelligence, OECD - International Organization, APAC
  • Mr Christopher E. Wilson, Senior Manager, Public Policy, Amazon - private sector, WEOG

Theme (as listed here): Digital inclusion and accessibility

Subtheme (as listed here): Persons with disabilities

Please state no more than three (3) key messages of the discussion. [150 words or less]

15% of world’s population have some form of disability and 80% of them live in the developing world. Participants considered the potential of AI to create solutions for new opportunities. Many shared examples of how AI is assisting people with disabilities and other marginalized groups to access technology and establish or improve their professional, educational and human connections. Key messages emphasised a need for:

  • Greater awareness on how AI can be used to enrich people’s lives.
  • Public private partnerships to ensure diffusion of technology for diversity and inclusiveness
  • Holistic policy frameworks to support cross-cutting technical, social, cultural, economic, and governance issues.

If there were presentations during the session, please provide a 1-paragraph summary for each presentation:                 

The session was opened with two videos, set as examples of capabilities developed by Amazon and Microsoft that can assist people with disabilities.

Panelists gave a short presentation before the floor was opened to the public.

Nobuhisa Nishigata, Economist and Policy Analyst at the Artificial Intelligence Division for Digital Economy, OECD

The OECD is currently working on the development of principles on Artificial Intelligence with an expert group, to foster trust in the technology and its wider adoption in society. Initial findings of the OECD show that the investment in AI is led by China and the U.S. Investment by startups and small companies has also been rapidly growing.

In terms of policy development, the OECD is preparing a framework, taking into account the applications of the technology, the need for innovation and the impact on work . Mr Nishigate noted that over 25 countries already have national strategies for AI, and there are many private initiatives working on ethical principles (UNESCO, the IEEE, the Partnership for AI, or Future Life).

Olga Cavalli, Advisor, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Argentina

With 80% of the people with disabilities living in the developing world, this is a specially challenging topic for developing countries. There are also challenges for developing countries to make AI a priority. Efforts to enhance the use of technologies for disabilities can sometimes lag behind. Accessibility needs to be part of an overall holistic policy framework. Regulations in Argentina can incorporate “accessibility by design”. When the tools and technology are designed, it is important to consider access to health, education and mobility with the disability in mind.

Ms Cavalli spoke of TifloLibros, a project that created the first digital library of spanish language audio books for the blind, highlighting the value of  multistakeholder partnerships (the project is coordinated by a local NGO with support from  the Argentinian government) to provide innovative solutions. At the same time, she underlined the need for education and skilling to support the wide use of these technologies.

She also noted the Marrakesh Treaty as a good example of how to balance intellectual property rights and also ensure content is available for humanitarian use or people with disabilities.

Gonzalo Navarro, Executive Director, Latin American Internet Association

The business community in Latin America is aware of the accessibility necessities, recognize their potential to create better conditions for people.The private sector is responding to the need for accessibility by creating new technologies, devices and services for people with disabilities. Although there is still a gap in terms of accessibility, technology is already available. There is ongoing research in Latin America on how technology is going to have an impact on the workforce in the future.

ALAI announced that a report will be launched by next year, with a special focus on AI and how it can improve the conditions of accessibility in Latin America.

Christopher E. Wilson, Senior Manager, Public Policy, Amazon

Mr Wilson noted how Amazon approaches AI and accessibility through “accessibility by design”. He explained how, upon embarking on a new project - AI related or not - the objective of Amazon is to enforce a customer-centric approcah, to focus on their needs, what is good for the customer and whether it improves their lives. One of the introductory videos showed how Amazon’s “Alexa” can be used to improve the lives of those with autism or similar disabilities. Mr Wilson alse presented “Voice View”, a speech-to-text learning technology used in Kindle devices and tablets to enable blind people to access material.

The “Partnership on AI” was noted as a good example of cooperation between industry and other stakeholders, coming together to develop best practice standards and constructive thinking about AI and to demystify the concept of AI. Mr Wilson highlighted the value of industry and other interested parties coming together to talk about AI in order to create shared understanding and embrace the potential of this set of technologies, to further enable AI innovation, rather than constrain it.

Please elaborate on the discussion held, specifically on areas of agreement and divergence. [150 words] Examples: There was broad support for the view that…; Many [or some] indicated that…; Some supported XX, while others noted YY…; No agreement…

There was broad support for the view that greater awareness and understanding is needed on how AI works and the opportunities it can bring for well-being and development. Many indicated that AI has the potential to empower everyone and is an effective tool in supporting people with disabilities by creating new opportunities for work, supporting human relationships and integration into the society. 

Some indicated that OECD analysis provides a good starting point for considering AI principles with the goal to promote trust and well-being overall. The OECD framework includes pillars such as access, use, innovation, jobs, society, trust, market openness. More than 25 countries have developed an AI strategy on how to address AI. Others noted the challenges for developing countries to make AI a priority.

Since regulation does not develop at the pace of innovation, participants agreed that partnerships are important to stay future orientated and connect supply with demand.

Please describe any policy recommendations or suggestions regarding the way forward/potential next steps. [100 words]

A holistic policy framework is necessary to address challenges including steps to support:

Skills and education: Training and capacity building is important to ensure meaningful access.

Availability of content: Marrakesh Treaty is a good example of how to balance intellectual property and also ensure content is available for humanitarian use or people with disabilities.

Design: Products can encompass diversity and accessibility by design.

Partnerships: Multistakeholder exchanges promote constructive thinking and de-mystify the notion of what AI is and how it can be used.

Common understanding: Understanding benefits and challenges AI poses is necessary to have evidence-based approaches.

What ideas surfaced in the discussion with respect to how the IGF ecosystem might make progress on this issue? [75 words]

Since the IGF brings together different countries and stakeholders there was a suggestion for IGF to continue to discuss how AI can be used to encourage inclusiveness and diversity. There was a proposal for IGF to organise a Best Practice Forum on AI and disabilities. This will create awareness of the issue and support opportunities for further dialogues.

Please estimate the total number of participants.

60 (maximum room capacity, standing room only)

Please estimate the total number of women and gender-variant individuals present.

35

To what extent did the session discuss gender issues, and if to any extent, what was the discussion? [100 words]

The research community is working with the private sector to address concerns about bias (including gender) to make sure that datasets are representative. Technical solutions can also be proposed to ensure sure groups such as women are represented.

Session Time: 
Tuesday, 13 November, 2018 - 11:50 to 13:20
Room: 
Salle III

Contact Information

United Nations
Secretariat of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF)

Villa Le Bocage
Palais des Nations,
CH-1211 Geneva 10
Switzerland

igf [at] un [dot] org
+41 (0) 229 173 678