ARC grant to help artificial intelligence break down barriers for people with disability

Western Sydney University has been awarded an Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage grant worth over $700,000, including partner contributions, to investigate how future Artificial Intelligence (AI) developments and policy can ensure economic, social and cultural inclusion for Australians from culturally and linguistically diverse (CaLD) backgrounds who are living with disabilities.

The project aims to assist the over 1 million Australians from CaLD backgrounds with disabilities who face exclusion from the digital technologies they rely on for vital support by making AI more adaptable, accessible and affordable.

The grant includes contributions by partner organisations Western Sydney Migrant Resource Centre, Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre, Gallery Lane Cove + Creative Studios, Your Side Australia and Microsoft Corporation.

The ARC’s prestigious Linkage program is designed to promote national and international research partnerships and transfer knowledge, skills and ideas.

Lead researcher, Associate Professor Karen Soldatic from the Institute for Culture and Society and School of Social Sciences, explained the importance of the research.

“This project brings together people with disabilities from culturally and linguistically diverse communities, key social services, public galleries and the technology industry, to better understand the societal impacts of technologies of automation,” said Associate Professor Soldatic.

“Artificial intelligence, robotics and other autonomous systems can foster inclusive participation, or alternatively erect new barriers of exclusion.

“Our goal is to provide pathways for communities to voice their aspirations and their criticisms towards the platforms that are now integral to everyday life.”


Enabling Disability? Autonomous Technologies & CaLD Persons with Disability

Western Sydney University Researchers: Associate Professor Karen Soldatic (School of Social Sciences and Institute for Culture and Society), Associate Professor Liam Magee (Institute for Culture and Society), Associate Professor Shanthi Robertson (School of Humanities and Communication Arts and Institute for Culture and Society), Professor Paul James (Institute for Culture and Society).

Partner Organisations: Western Sydney Migrant Resource Centre, Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre, Gallery Lane Cove + Creative Studios, Your Side Australia, Microsoft Corporation.

Project Summary:

Over 1 million disabled Australians are from culturally and linguistically diverse (CaLD) communities, the majority of whom are ineligible for disability and multicultural services. CaLD persons with disability significantly rely on digital information systems, devices and platforms to secure their economic, social and cultural inclusion. Evidence to date documents the continual exclusionary impact of artificial intelligence (AI) behind such technologies in addition to its inaccessibility to complex end-users. Yet, AI is now central to socio-economic well-being and inclusion. In partnership with community and industry, this project will inform future AI developments and policy increasing its adaptability, accessibility and affordability.

Total awarded budget: $725,090 (including partner contributions)

ENDS

24 January 2020

Emily-Kate Ringle-Harris (opens in a new window), Research Media and Communications Officer, Institute for Culture and Society