Feb 6, 2024
3 mins

Can AI Open Doors? Exploring Job Opportunities for People with Disabilities

Jonathan, Zhaohan, and Benedict, interns at Predict42, interviewed Juilette, a person with a physical impairment, to understand her daily challenges and explore the potential of data labeling tasks in an AI project focused on accessibility. They discussed her experiences finding employment and how technology could be used to create more inclusive opportunities.

Can AI Open Doors? Exploring Job Opportunities for People with Disabilities

Meet Juliette

Juliette, a bright and determined young woman, navigates the world with a unique perspective. At 21, she currently lives with her supportive parents in Pleitersheim, Germany, and is poised to move into her own apartment next year. However, Juliette faces significant challenges due to her severe physical impairment, infantile cerebral palsy (ICP), caused by oxygen deprivation at birth. This necessitates 24/7 assistance.

Despite these hurdles, Juliette possesses a strong spirit and a desire for independence. Finding employment proves particularly difficult, as inclusion in the workforce isn't always readily available. Today marked her second visit to Predict42, where she explored data labeling as a potential career path. While she communicates through a special pen glove and app-based multiple-choice selections, her determination shines through. Her mother, acting as her dedicated assistant, bridges any communication gaps, allowing Juliette's voice to be heard clearly.

Young 9th grade highschools students make a quick introduction on their labelling assignment with Juliette

Interview with Juliette

Q: How do you communicate?

A: When I am in my wheelchair then I communicate via lifting my right arm for yes and my left for no. That is very annoying as you might guess as you can only answer with either "Yes" or "No". So I do have other methods of communications. I have an IPad app where I can choose answers for (limited) multiple choice questions. Its still not perfect as I can't control my muscles well, but it is way better than just "Yes" or "No" because with this method I can at least rate things on a scale from one to 9. Usually though, when I am with my parents or assistants, we communicate via reading facial expressions but that is only feasible for people that know me well. This technique is called partner scanning.

Q: Do you train your communication daily?

A: No. I just came back from rehabilitation in Slovakia though. I trained a lot when I was in school because I was using the IPad the whole day but now I am currently at home a lot as I am in a transition phase of going from school to work.

Q: Have you ever thought about Brain-Computer Interfaces as a possible way of communication?

A: Yes I do! I’m waiting for new results and implementation possibilities.

Juliette and her mother get ready for Juilette to start labelling data
Juliette's Special Chair, Glove and Ipad interface

Q: How does your normal everyday day look like?

A: Well, I define a good day as one where the three tasks "eating", "drinking”, "digesting" and "sleeping" worked. Everything else is an upgrade. As I said, I am currently in a transition phase meaning I am mostly alone at home because my parents obviously have to continue working, which makes the average day pretty boring. That's why we are currently going on a lot of holidays to cure the boredom and least give me the possibility experiencingand learning new things.

Q: Did you cope well with the labeling task?

A: Yes, I did. However, labeling isn't really a task you can do the whole day long. Anyone with experience knows that. I am hoping to find some more mini-tasks like this that I can combine into a full and diverse job.

First attempt to label data with her special Ipad and Glove

Q: Do you think Computer Science and Machine Learning is interesting?

A: To be honest, I don't. I never learned about it at school or had the possibility to get to know more about it, so I never thought it especially interesting.

Q: What do you find interesting?

A: I liked a lot to be at school and to learn. Ialso love good food, listening to audio books, watching TV, traveling, going inrehabilitation, being in a community like I had in my times at boarding schooland shopping.

Date of interview: January 30, 2024 in Mainz Predict42 Offices. Participants: Juilette, Isabelle, Jonathan, Benedict, Zhaohan

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