February 13, 2024

AI Driving Digital Inclusion


As AI has grown more sophisticated large businesses, charities and local councils are adopting new technologies. Here we’ll be looking at a couple of the latest technological advancements used by these organisations.

PairD: Deloitte's Generative AI Platform

Deloitte, one of the Big Four accountancy firms, has made a big move into AI, bringing disability equality to the forefront.

As the landscape for AI applications grows, businesses see the benefits of AI tools. Deloitte’s internal AI institute has created a Generative AI platform, PairD, to help their staff with day-to-day tasks. Researching and drafting content, writing code, and prioritising tasks for staff.

However, Deloitte has cautioned users about PairD potentially giving inaccurate information. Generative AI generally comes with a consensus: humans should always check the quality and veracity of AI-produced work. Deloitte has mandated that staff receive training before using the tool. Find out more about the dangers of gen AI here.

Following the release to 75,00 of Deloitte’s people across the UK, Europe and the Middle East. Later this year, the 800 employees of the charity Scope will also be given access and training for PairD.

Scope and Pair D

Scope is a disability equality charity that campaigns for and supports those with disabilities. Inaccessibility online can affect around 16 million people in the UK. The CEO of Scope, Mark Hodgkinson, reminds us that “technology must be used as a force for good for everyone, and we know AI can be a great enabler for disabled people.” Read more here.

The digital divide caused by disabilities isn’t helped when accessibility isn’t considered on a website. For instance, when text is in italics or bold. Screen readers don’t always pick this up, and underlined text can be mistaken for links. These are a few of the problems that can affect disabled people online. 

AI for Local Government

At the end of last year, a local volunteer focus group and the Swindon Borough Council developed an AI tool to help those with learning disabilities. Currently, Easy Read services come with an average cost of £120 per A4 page. It unfortunately didn’t surprise us when we found that living costs £975 more a month on average if you’re disabled.

Simply Readable: Affordable AI for Equitable Information Access

Swindon Borough Council’s AI tool is a good step towards making this more equitable for disabled people. The price of using Simply Readable to process one A4 page was less than 10p per page. This tool, convertible into 75 languages, could empower individuals with learning disabilities and make information more accessible. It is bridging the digital divide and ensuring that no one is excluded or disadvantaged.

Simply Readable is powered by Amazon Web Services (AWS), using Anthrophic’s Claude 2 and Stability AI’s Stable Diffusion large language models. These have been marketed as safer AI models, though we have not tested them ourselves.

Inaccurate information can be generated by Simply Readable, like Pair D. Swindon Council, which has dedicated a team that will oversee and amend output when needed. However, scripted AI is safer than completely generative AI to avoid these risks.

You can find out more about the work of Swindon Borough Council Scope here.

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