Making content accessible for people with disabilities.

Past and Current Partners

UNICEF Innovation Fund, Microsoft AI for Accessibility Program, Digital Impact Square, TCS Foundation (India)

Active Countries
India, USA
Thematic area(s)
Open Source, SaaS, Whitelabel, AI
Organisation Name
ISTEM Private Limited

The Problem

People with disabilities face a lack of access to equal and quality education. While technology can help students access education independently, it requires the content to be accessible and compatible with their assistive technologies. Unfortunately, over 97% of the online content today is inaccessible (according to a web accessibility consultancy company, WebAim), forcing students to rely on a system that is not designed to meet their needs. This has also led to high unemployment with only 16% of people with disabilities employed in India. This is not just limited to academic content, but also government notifications, documentation and other important information available. This severely limits the ability of people with disabilities to participate in the digital economy.

The Solution

This AI-powered solution converts inaccessible content into accessible and usable formats for people with disabilities, while also providing feedback to organizations about the accessibility of their digital collateral

How it works?

  • Step 1: Users register on the I-Stem platform.
  • Step 2: They upload inaccessible content (documents or audio/video).
  • Step 3. They select the desired accessible format (accessible HTML, docx or audio).
  • Step 4. AI models convert the inaccessible content into an accessible format (including retention of semantic information and formatting such as headings, lists, tables etc.) and send a notification to the user once the file is ready (usually under 5 minutes).
Digital X Solution I-Stem

Bridging the digital divide

I-Stem's solution empowers people with disabilities to access information, resources and opportunities on an equal basis, and take full advantage of the digital offerings available. Despite the promise of technology for people with disabilities, a significant amount of content on websites and apps continues to be inaccessible. By using I-Stem's technology to convert content (documents and audio/video) into accessible formats, and by providing developers actionable feedback to make their websites and apps accessible, I-Stem levels the playing field for individuals with disabilities.

Impact and highlights

  • 2,000 users with disabilities use the platform to convert inaccessible content into usable formats.
  • Over 30,000 inaccessible pages have been converted into accessible formats.
  • Five organizations (Indian Institute of Technology Delhi, Ashoka University, Intel, National Informatics Center, Govt. of India and Dept. of Services for the Blind, Washington state Government) use this technology for their students/clients.
  • Reduced the time to convert inaccessible content into accessible formats by 70%.
  • 36 people with disabilities have been successfully placed in high-tech jobs with leading MNCs including Microsoft, Morgan Stanley, and Goldman Sachs.
  • Community of over 5,000 people with disabilities who consume up-skilling and capacity-building content and services.

Plans for expansion

Working to expand beyond India and the US to other developing countries including Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Kenya. Are currently in conversations with partners in these regions. They are also working with Govt. of India to integrate their open-source solution with Diksha (the online platform for school education in India) so that all textbooks and academic content uploaded to the platform can be accessed by people with disabilities. Future plans include integrating it with the entire government digital infrastructure so that all content (academic and non-academic, including notices/circulars, job advertisements etc.) is available in accessible formats. Allowing people with disabilities to access information on an equal basis.