Women's History Month: An Interview with Chieko Asakawa, FNAI

A graphic shows headshot of inventor Chieko Asakawa with the text "#WomensHistoryMonth NAI celebrates Chieko Asakawa, FNAI", followed by "IBM Distinguished Service Professor, Carnegie Mellon University; IBM Fellow". The graphic also includes a small image with a computer, smartphone, and smartphone case.As we continue in our celebration of Women’s History Month, Chieko Asakawa, FNAI, of IBM and NAI Member Institution Carnegie Mellon University, shares what inspires her to be an inventor and the importance of innovation in aiding diversity and inclusion.

Q: What inspired you to become, and keeps inspiring you to be an inventor?
A: I think motivation or inspiration for inventions, can be found in macro-level social issues, and micro-level daily life. I have been inventing based on my daily experiences as a blind person and that has motivated me to improve my quality of life. Now, AI and robotic technologies keep evolving, and such technologies have tremendous potential to greatly better our lives. So, I have even more inspiration to invent. I will continue to challenge myself to improve life, to be better and better.

Q: As an inventor in the accessibility space, what is the importance of innovation in aiding diversity and inclusion?
A: I believe inventions and innovations are a pair of wheels. Great inventions cannot change our lives if they are not implemented into our society. Invention leads to innovation. That’s really true for accessibility technologies. For example, when accessibility technologies make the impossible, possible, for people with disabilities, those people can then be further included into society. Thus, our society can be more inclusive. So, innovation for accessibility has an important role, to make sure no one is left behind.

To read more about Dr. Asakawa and her work, visit: https://ow.ly/Zx2G50R38x2 and https://ow.ly/j7WR50R38x1