Ep 127 – The Future of Work: Machine Learning and Ability-Based Design

workology podcast episode 127: future of work: machine learning and ability-based design

Welcome to a new series on the Workology Podcast we are kicking off that focuses on the future of work. This series is in collaboration with the Partnership on Employment & Accessible Technology or PEAT.

Everywhere I turn there seem to be conversations in the human resources and recruiting industry centered around artificial intelligence. It is truly permeating our landscape and, myself, along with PEAT found some pretty amazing things that researchers are doing in the fields of accessibility and technology. One of those emerging technology fields is in the area of touchscreen technology allowing those with motor impairments to be able to use and access technology.

Episode 127: The Future of Work: Machine Learning and Ability-Based Design with Martez Mott (@martez_mott)

My Workology Podcast guest today is Martez Mott. He is a sixth-year PH.D. candidate in the Information School at the University of Washington where he is a member of the Mobile + Accessible Design Lab. His focus is “designing touch interaction techniques for people with motor impairments and also for people under the effects of situational impairments.”

In the HR and recruiting space, we tend to think about machine learning in terms of smart SAaS software, but not necessarily in terms of machine learning that’s focused on improving or enhancing the employee experience beyond smart software. We don’t always think of machine learning as providing a way to improve accessibility for employees and persons with disabilities. His research is laying the foundation for more employees to have access to the right tools and technology to do their jobs. This research focuses on touch technology specifically for individuals with motor impairments including those with cerebral palsy.

The Accessible Employee Experience

Martez explains how mobile technology can help individuals with motor impairments be able to communicate. At present, he says that doing basic tasks like sending an email or using a computer are challenging. In this fast-paced world we live in where technology is so important to our personal and well as professional lives, Martez opens my eyes and hopefully yours to how motor touch technology can help make the workplace better for employees with motor impairments. Imagine not being able to type on your keyboard or even punch in a phone number with your mobile device.

The machine learning work that Martez is doing will allow employes and consumers to be able to customize their touch on mobile devices, touch screens, and tablets being able to recognize, understand, and predict their movements allowing them to do everyday things we might take for granted like answering text messages, using a mobile app, or responding to an email.

The Future of Machine Learning and Accessibility All Employees

Martez says that machine learning requires a lot of data points to be accurate and increase predictability. His work in touch interaction requires a lot of data. These touch behaviors are unique to the individual and even can change when you the individual takes your medication. These nuances and changes in touch are small but are critical in making the technology work for all. 

The work that Martez is doing is truly fascinating. It really opened my eyes to how touch technology can have a big impact when it comes to providing opportunities for meaningful work to everyone. I’m excited to see where this research goes and the future of accessible technology in the workplace.

Connect with Martez Mott


– Student Hopes to Make Touch Screen Technology More Accessible to Everyone 

– The Future of Accessible Work 

– What is Machine Learning?

– Partnership on Employment & Accessible Technology (PEAT)

– Episode 127 Transcript 

How to Subscribe to the Workology Podcast

You can also click here to find out how to be a guest on the Workology Podcast. 

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Learn more about Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource, and the host of the Workology Podcast. More of her blogs can be found here.


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