AI Fairness must be considered as part of National Disability Employment Awareness Month

Share this post:

Two days ago, Gartner released its top ten technological trends for 2020 of which business leaders need to be aware. Their third item, “Democratization of Expertise,” caught my eye. I have seen that idea many times tied with Artificial Intelligence (AI) and AI’s ability to enable users to make decisions without being experts themselves. 

I think that is something we need to keep in mind right now with October being National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). The theme of the campaign for 2019 is “The Right Talent, Right Now.”  

The 2019 NDEAM poster in English with the theme of "Right Talent, Right Now" and pictures on the right hand side of the image of employees with disabilities working in inclusive workplaces.

The 2019 NDEAM Poster in English.

I have heard of a few cases where companies have used AI in their job candidate screening practices to identify candidates who most closely resemble existing high performing professionals within the company. When a candidate does not match that existing profile, the models can eliminate that candidate from the pool. That is problematic for candidates who have the right talent but a different profile potentially because of a disability. 

Last year IBM convened a workshop to discuss this and how AI may impact fair treatment for people with disabilities. We brought together individuals with disabilities, advocates, AI experts, and researchers to discuss this challenge and identify important potential solutions and focus areas. The organizer for that event, IBM’s own Shari Trewin, published an overview of that past workshop, as well as a a detailed report that will appear soon in the ACM SIGAI Newsletter, ‘AI Matters’.

ACM ASSETS 2019 Workshop on AI Fairness for People with Disabilities

This year Shari Trewin, together with a team of prominent accessibility researchers, has again organized a workshop around AI fairness. This time, the workshop is at the start of the 21st International ACM SIGACCESS conference on Computers and Accessibility (ASSETS) in Pittsburgh. This workshop will examine AI fairness, accountability, transparency, and ethics (FATE) for the specific situations of people with disabilities. The purpose of this workshop will be to develop community across disciplines in the area of AI FATE as it regards to people with disabilities. It will address strategic action plans for increasing impact in research, industry, and policy. The keynote at the workshop will be given by Alexandra Givens, the Executive Director of the Institute for Technology Law & Policy at Georgetown University. Her presentation will examine the handful of court cases that have begun to challenge algorithmic systems for discrimination and other harms, and she will present several distinct ways in which current legal theories fall short in upholding the rights and interests of people with disabilities.

Stay Up to Date

After the conference, we will be putting together a summary of the workshop as well as position papers. Please check back with us either on the ASSETS pages or on to stay up to date around the latest results.

More Events stories
By Shari Trewin and Yves Veulliet on December 3, 2020

Designing AI Applications to Treat People with Disabilities Fairly

AI solutions must account for everyone. AI-based applications can treat people with disabilities fairly by embedding ethics into AI development from the very beginning.

Continue reading