Artificial intelligence and people with intellectual disabilities, what are new breakthroughs in employment?

I have been imagining the following sci-fi scene: Jack, our employee with intellectual disability, would have an intelligent assistant which is a perfect combination of AI and AR technology, guided by the voice of the assistant, moving freely in our workshop and completing assigned tasks with ease.When Jack manages to complete his task of assembling 500 parts, an audible sound of applause will be played. While at the same time, to further encourageJack, a voice assistant will cheer  him up, saying: “Congratulations Jack! You have achieved your goal, you have done a great job today.” 
 

 

Jack smiles and continues to handle his given tasks. Unfortunately, it may not take long before he blunders away. Then there is a beep sound, follows by a screen showing Jack a video with corrections for  reference. The trainer in the workshop immediately receives a notification from Jack’s workstation. The trainer will then come to Jack’s assistance, patiently helping him rectify his errors.

 

 

You might think that my fantasy could only be seen in a sci-fi movie, or it may only come true 100 years from now. But Accenture has turned my fantasy into an undeniable reality.

 

Bridging the Technological Gap
– Project Background

 

We live in a world of rapidly developing technologies where artificial intelligence and massive data management are integrated into different industries and even into our every day life. We tend to think that with the introduction of such innovative technologies, marginalized groups in our society will also  benefit in terms of better education and access to high-quality vocational training. At the same time, we vision that the emergence of such technologies  will assist in narrowing the gaps between different members of our society.However, the reality is not so.

 

 

In fact, technology has made the goal of social inclusion harder to achieve. While it is possible for us to benefit from existing technologies, the reality is that those born with intellectual disabilities are left behind even further. Insufficient training and lack of available resources hinder them from  adapting to technology-based education, hence making it impossiblefor them to enjoy personal and career development as much as we do. Technology has even further  segmented them away from the mainstream, as they are struggling to keep up with the rapid pace of technological advancement.

 

 

To this aim, Accenture, a world-renowned technology pioneer, has joined forces with the Taicang Inclusion Factory to  explore effective solutions to address this societal problem.

 

Stimulating and Adapting to new vibes in Employment for People With Disabilities

 

Inclusion Factory, a social enterprise with the mission of promoting the integration of employees with disabilities, is employing  43 full-time employees with intellectual disabilities, who provide  Processing and Assembly services for the highly demanding Automotive and Electrical Appliances industries.

 

While we are aware that  the advancement of artificial intelligence and automation technologies may pose threats to the job opportunities available for employees with intellectual disabilities, we at the same time believe that there must be an opportunity arising despite the challenge.

 

 

In January 2022, we launched the “Accenture Industrial Worker Assistant” program with Accenture.

 

We gathered from user insight and solution implementation; we discovered we should move one step at a time

 

 

 

The implementation of this project is divided into five stages: exploration, definition, creation, testing and implementation.In consideration of the specific nature of the project and the unique nature of the employees with disabilities, as well as the business, technical and resource availability of the Inclusion Factory, Accenture and the Inclusion Factory finally decided to explore the application of artificial intelligence in the business of “lower gear cover assembly” and developed the “Accenture Industrial Worker Assistant” application, which provides a high fidelity hands-on training environment for factory staff to learn how to assemble parts, as well as improving the efficiency and effectiveness of training in the factory and enhancing product quality by detecting and correcting improper operations during assembly line tasks. 

 

Accenture Liquid Studio Shanghai, Accenture Shenzhen Digital Innovation Hub and Inclusion Factory have overcome the inconvenience caused by the epidemic and have progressively completed product design, data collection, model training and validation through remote collaboration between the three regions.In June, a model of the smallest operational product “Accenture Industrial Worker Assistant” was created in the factory, and further user validation and continuous refinement will be conducted. An easy-to-understand text and images, clear visual navigation, a intellectual model for automatic error correction, and a combination of multiple alert mechanisms are now available for everyone ……

 

 

We are using Artificial Intelligence tools and technologies with Augmented Reality to enhance our employees’ skills, assisting them to take part in complex tasks which typically would be beyond their capability. In the short term, we believe that all members of Inclusion Factory, will enormously benefit from this innovative project!But our eye is set much further. 

This Project between Accenture and the Inclusion Factory seeks to transcend well  beyond the walls of the Inclusion Factory. It has the potential to be a game-changer in the employability of People with Disabilities – who are often considered the world’s largest marginalized group –  in China and globally.

 

Leave no one behind is the central promise of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its Sustainable Development Goals.  This project shows us a best practice which proves technology enpower people with disabilities to reach  decent employment.