IBM Fellow Chieko Asakawa
IBM Fellow, IBM Research
Chieko Asakawa is an IBM Fellow working in the area of accessibility. Her initial contribution in the area started from braille digitalization and moved onto the Web accessibility, including the world first practical voice browser. Today, Chieko is focusing on advancing cognitive assistant research to help the blind regain information by augmenting missing or weakened abilities in the real world by the power of AI. In 2013, the government of Japan awarded the Medal of Honor with Purple Ribbon to Chieko for her outstanding contributions to accessibility research. She was elected as a foreign member of the US National Academy of Engineering in 2017, and inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame (NIHF) in 2019. She has been also serving as an IBM Distinguished Service Professor at Carnegie Mellon University since 2014.
Technologies have been helping people with disabilities to participate in society actively. Voice-based Web access allowed the blind to access a huge amount of information by themselves and enabled them to work, learn, and do many activities in their daily lives. The new AI and IoT technologies start enabling new levels of independence, such as visiting unfamiliar public places, traveling by air, and even participating social activities, which requires to recognize the faces and emotions of surrounding people. In this talk, I will analyze central trends in the history of accessibility and introduce the latest research activities to make “real-world” accessible and also the challenges we have to deploy AI-based accessibility technologies in a real environment.