Technology December 22, 2019
Bengaluru start-up Continual Engine aims to make STEM accessible for blind people
Blind students are not encouraged to study STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) given the lack of accessible reading materials. There are many initiatives and technologies that are changing this. A new entrant is Bengaluru-based start-up Continual Engine that is using artificial intelligence and machine learning.
Images, tables, equations and diagrams are a core aspect of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics or STEM. Making them accessible to blind students comes with many challenges. For this reason, many schools, including schools for the blind do not encourage them to pursue them.
Using AI to help blind students study STEM
Continual Engine (CE) is attempting to change this by working with publishers and universities. CE is an artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) technology start-up in the education space based in Bengaluru. Founder Mousumi Kapoor says CE is looking at end to end accessibility, which means images, text and web.
Writing STEM content requires sophisticated levels of knowledge and we looked at how we could use technology to automate the process. Right now, CE is mainly working with universities and publishers in the United States and our focus is to build a world class product. – Mousumi Kapoor, Founder, Continual Engine
Among the universities CE is working with are George Mason University, Virginia Tech, and Harvard University in the United States. “We are looking to build a tool that would use AI to make PDF remediation simple and do the same with web accessibility”, adds Mousumi.
Accessibility for image, text & web
Among the tools CE has launched is Invicta for image and document accessibility. This is an “intelligent, interactive and inclusive” platform.
“Invicta’s algorithms are extensively trained with hundreds of thousands of images. This helps descriptions with high accuracy and consistency”, says K Sriram, a team member at CE. “Invicta supersedes all manual and automated tools to offer a reliable remediating platform for universities, publishers and corporates, in full compliance with accessibility guidelines”.
As a blind person, Sriram has a close understanding of the challenges faced by students who are visually impaired. “The aim is to make STEM accessible to everyone. We understand the challenges associated with remediating textbooks for the needs of visually impaired students. This becomes even more daunting when dealing with content having STEM images, equations, diagrams and business accounting tables”.
Traditional accessibility workflows have many problems ranging from accessibility expertise and clumsy workflows. They are time consuming and expensive as well. CE is looking ti resolve these issues in simple, efficient and cost-effective way. You can find out more about CE on their website.
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