AI in Mobile Legends is something that I can beat up easily, but with Microsoft’s AI for Accessibility Hackathon, wherein more than 400 individuals over 8 countries across Asia Pacific participated, AI is going to become a tool to overcome accessibility challenges for people with disabilities.
Microsoft Philippines focused on accessibility issues connected to visual impairment, and with their partner, ATRIEV, four problem statements were identified. Teams were formed to conceptualize a solution for each problem statement, and every team consists of ATRIEV representatives and other Microsoft partners. Together with my co-trainers, Anthony Lozada and Rafael Pataray, we were with Czar Castro, Sonny Lozada, and Miguel Arcilla to create our team, Eye Browser.
It never registered to me how lucky I am to be in an event with that calibre until I learned that I was talking to a Business Analyst, Technical Specialist, and Software Developer, and with that, I had to step-up my game. The problem statement assigned to us was about increasing the accessibility of websites through AI, and with my playful mind, I thought of our team name, Eye Browser. Well, it’s kind of brilliant, right? The “Eye” is for those who have visual impairment and “Browser” because it’s about the web. Okay! Okay! I admit. I suggested that team name jokingly, and surprisingly, my teammates liked it. So, there you go, Team Eye Browser.
In order to come up with an idea for the solution, our sighted team members had to empathize our target persons, which are the VIs. You might think empathizing is an easy task, but it is not. When our sighted members truly understand the situations of the VIs, only then they can think of a solution for the problem, and that became challenging for us, ATRIEV representatives. From the introduction of screen reader, how we use computer, and the accessibility issues we encounter, Sir Anthony, Sir Rafael and I explained all that to the point where empathizing never stopped even we’re in the comfort room.
Challenging, but all the hard work paid off when we were able to conceptualize an answer to an accessibility issue and actually win first place in AI for Accessibility Hackathon PH. Now, as an idea comes to life, let us all hope for the Eye Browser to make a difference in the lives of visually impaired persons.