On December 3rd, iFLYTEK has developed a customized accessible input method for the visually impaired with electronics manufacturer Xiaomi in recognition of the 30th International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD). Customized for Xiaomi’s MIUI OS, the input method is expected to aid the visually impaired to communicate and engage with technologies.
iFLYTEK aims to build its AI-supported input method into “truncated domes”
iFLYTEK has been a pioneer in developing accessible products and was among the first companies in China to develop accessibility features to support voice input and the use of emoticons for the blind. In partnership with Xiaomi, iFLYTEK developed the customized input method to meet the personalized needs of the over 17 million visually impaired people in China and enable them to fully participate in an emerging technological era of breakthroughs in inclusivity.
iFLYTEK has worked continuously to improve its input method. In 2010, the company first launched its voice input and has since increased its accuracy rate from 70 to over 98 percent. Additionally, in 2016, an accessibility mode of the iFLYTEK input method was created for the visually impaired and so far, most features with the app have been adapted for barrier-free operation.
Based on the existing features developed by iFLYTEK, the customized input method is able to provide feedback in the form of vibrations and voice prompts and can automatically read out texting options to allow the visually impaired to easily identify and choose emoji icons. What’s more, the input method can recognize 23 dialects and can switch between Mandarin, Tibetan, Uygur, Japanese and Korean.
According to the Report on the Basic Situation of Visually Impaired Internet Users in China, the visually impaired face greater disparities in educational resources due to their reduced ability to type and read. The iFLYTEK input method can effectively cut their time of typing, with the aim of bridging the communication gap in the world of the internet.
“We have recognized the problems facing the visually-impaired. Since the public at-large can enjoy the convenience of mobile internet, the needs of disabled communities in this area are often overlooked. When it is truly accessible, the input method, as a basic app, can play a significant role in connecting the visually impaired to the world of the internet. Based on iFLYTEK’s artificial intelligence, speech recognition, and machine translation technology, we have worked to meet the needs of the blind for fast and smooth communication in various scenarios. Also, we will work continuously to optimize the app and develop it into a fully accessible tool so that people with vision loss can equally use all the functions,” said iFLYTEK input method business manager Cheng Kun.
Zhu Yiqing, an official with the China Association of the Blind recognized the role of iFLYTEK in improving information accessibility and assisting the blind in their work and daily lives. He also expressed hope and optimism that more applications will become accessible to enable all members of the public to enjoy the convenience brought by technology.