Digital Promise Equity Certification
October 20, 2022
Since 2013, we’ve been building voice technology for kids that aims to understand every child’s voice accurately and equally, regardless of their race, background, age, or ethnicity. Today, thanks to Digital Promise, our focus and mission has been independently validated for the first time, and we couldn’t be more thrilled.
About the certification
Since 2020, Digital Promise has awarded over 100 product certifications to edtech products that have met their rigorous standards for the development and design of solutions that fulfill the variable needs of learners. This August, they launched a brand-new certificate — Prioritizing Racial Equity in AI Design — in collaboration with the Edtech Equity Project.
Vic Vuchic, Chief Strategy Officer at Digital Promise, explains the new certification and collaboration further: “AI has tremendous promise to impact learning, especially for supporting teachers and learners who are furthest from opportunity. That said, AI can have bias that impacts certain populations disproportionately. That is why Digital Promise is so excited to partner with the EdTech Equity Project to signal critical design best practices that can mitigate these biases for educators and learners of color. This product certification will help educators and learners find products that are committed to implementing these best practices and focused on making sure AI works for learners of color.”
How SoapBox came to be first
SoapBox’s voice engine has been designed from the ground up to cater to kids’ unique voices, speech patterns, behaviors, environments, and privacy needs. It powers some of the most widely used digital learning tools for literacy and language instruction and assessment across grades PreK-12.
We’re thrilled to see SoapBox Labs deliver best-in-class voice-enabled technology that sets a high standard for the edtech industry by investing in the critical work required to ensure their AI works well for learners of color.Nidhi Hebbar, Co-Founder of the EdTech Equity Project
To earn the Prioritizing Racial Equity in AI Design certification, SoapBox offered evidence of our approach to building an equity-driven solution, including that we are:
- Intentional and transparent about the design of our voice technology to prioritize equity;
- Critical, collaborative, and reflective in the iterative improvements of our technology to commit to developing an equitable tool; and
- Accountable for delivering viable AI products that establish equitable and powerful learning experiences and outcomes that recognize and address learner variability.
On awarding the certification to SoapBox, Nidhi Hebbar, Co-Founder of the EdTech Equity Project said: “This award not only recognizes SoapBox Labs’ commitment to racial equity but also constitutes a meaningful step forward for the edtech industry. [Fellow co-founder] Madison Jacobs and I are thrilled to see SoapBox Labs deliver best-in-class voice-enabled technology that sets a high standard for the industry by investing in the critical work required to ensure their AI works well for learners of color.”
More about how SoapBox prioritizes racial equity
According to a March 2020 study by Stanford University, most voice systems available on the market today suffer significantly from bias. Such biased voice systems can amplify and propagate deep seated prejudices and, when used in a classroom environment, they can have damaging long-term consequences for children.
Since 2013 SoapBox has been developing and iterating on an Equity Framework to ensure we have a solid structure from which to test, address, and mitigate bias.Dr. Amelia Kelly, VP of Speech Technology, SoapBox Labs
The team at SoapBox has a combined 150 years of speech expertise and has built a reputation among our global education clients for voice technology that performs on a par with human assessors and shows no racial bias. By the end of Q3 2022, SoapBox reached a significant milestone having delivered over 60 million learning moments for students on four continents using learning tools powered by our voice technology.
Voice technology that treats all children’s voices equally has been a guiding principle of our work at SoapBox from the very beginning. As Dr. Amelia Kelly, SoapBox’s VP of Speech Technology explains, “Creating AI technology for children to use requires an ‘equity by design’ approach and philosophy. Since 2013 SoapBox has been developing and iterating on an Equity Framework to ensure we have a solid structure from which to test, address, and mitigate bias in all areas, from our data processing and model building to our product design and evaluation activities.”
Equity to unlock potential
“There is so much potential for voice-enabled learning to help educators and young students,” said Martyn Farrows, Ph.D., CEO of SoapBox Labs. “But to unlock that potential, the voice-enabled products we use in the classroom must be accurate and treat all kids’ voices equally. Achieving that high bar for education opens the door for positive and equitable voice-enabled experiences in many other areas, like interactive TV and gaming. We’re honored to be recognized for our work and steadfast commitment to kids, and to share what we’ve learned in the process with our peers.”
Interested in learning more?
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