Inclusion and Technology

Innovative technologies offer opportunities to design the world of work more inclusively for people with disabilities. Technology is defined broadly in this context and ranges from general devices such as smartphones to specially manufactured or adapted systems and collaborative robots.

Close-up: Hands of a person with visual impairment operating a Braille terminal
© iStock/Chansom Pantip

The application of artificial Intelligence (AI) to improve individual and situational support for people with disabilities is particularly promising. AI can help overcome barriers and open up new opportunities for participation in working life (e.g. AI-based visual aids or real-time sign language translators). The Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (Bundesanstalt für Arbeitsschutz und Arbeitsmedizin, BAuA) recognises the enormous potential AI has in this field (see, for instance, the KI.Assist project) and focuses at the same time on the risks associated with these technologies. These risks are for example, discrimination against applicants with disabilities, the loss of jobs suitable for individuals with cognitive limitations, or ethical problems connected with data collection.

BAuA is actively involved at the intersection of ergonomics and rehabilitation studies, conducting targeted investigations into how new technologies can support inclusive approaches to work design. One of its research projects is compiling a comprehensive scientific review of the subject, which will summarise the latest knowledge about the use of new technologies for the vocational inclusion of people with disabilities. Additionally, the project seeks to gather not only the specialist knowledge of experts in this field, but also the experiences of people with disabilities with technologies. Subsequently, the project aims to develop a model for vocational inclusion of people with disabilities through the use of technologies. This project represents an initial attempt to explore these topics while building on the extensive knowledge BAuA has acquired about new technologies.

Research Project

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Focus Programme: Occupational Safety & Health in the Digital World of Work

Topic

Artificial intelligence, big data, mobile working, industry 4.0 - digital technology is transforming the world of work. With this interdisciplinary focus programme, BAuA is helping to ensure these changes are managed humanely.

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