Kessler Foundation and Microsoft's AI for Accessibility jointly award planning grant to OCAD U for research of bias in current AI hiring systems against people with disabilities

Published: Oct. 25, 2021 at 3:53 PM EDT|Updated: Nov. 2, 2021 at 10:00 AM EDT

EAST HANOVER, N.J., Nov. 2, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- A joint planning grant from Kessler Foundation and Microsoft's AI for Accessibility has been given to Ontario College of Art & Design University (OCAD U), Toronto, Ontario, Canada, to explore bias in current hiring systems. The one-year grant will be used by OCAD U's Inclusive Design Research Centre (IDRC) to investigate and summarize non-disability-specific and synthesized employment data and publish its findings. Companies are increasingly using AI (artificial intelligence) to screen potential candidates to hire. Current automated profiling is usually based on existing data sets and cultural compatibility, which often discriminate against people with disabilities and other marginalized populations.

In a joint grant with Microsoft, Kessler Foundation awarded $50,000 to OCAD U for research of disability bias in AI hiring

Since 2000, Kessler Foundation's investment of more than $50 million has led to improved job skills and salaried employment for thousands of individuals with disabilities. Kessler Foundation has provided an additional $50,000 through the joint planning grant.

"The data algorithms used presently to develop AI learning, such as facial recognition, employment history, and trait testing, often do not include the experience of people with disabilities and other marginalized populations," said Elaine E. Katz, MS, CCC-SLP, senior vice president for grants and communications at Kessler Foundation. "The Center for Grantmaking at Kessler Foundation looks for innovative projects such as IDRC's that spark change for people with disabilities," she added.

Researching more relevant modifications in AI-powered job hiring software is a first step in effecting change to present-day inclusion bias for people with disabilities. "We hope to prompt a mindset change in hiring and recruitment," explains Professor Jutta Treviranus of OCAD U and IDRC's director and founder. "This research aims to help counteract the bias against the difference of disability in AI hiring applications and demonstrate AI algorithm alternatives that do not optimize past patterns but encourage the novel, exploratory and divergent. Potential usage includes all users of LinkedIn Recruiter as well as members of The Valuable 500. At minimum, presence of the adapted filter will prompt reflection on current biased practice."

For more information contact or Microsoft AI for Accessibility.

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SOURCE Kessler Foundation

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