Microsoft commits $25 mn to use AI for people with disabilities
Microsoft's five-year programme will put AI tools in the hands of developers to accelerate the development of accessible and intelligent AI solutions to benefit them, Microsoft said in a blog post
Tech giant Microsoft has committed USD 25 million for its 'AI for Accessibility' programme to accelerate development of artificial intelligence-based solutions for over a billion people with disabilities globally. The five-year programme will put AI tools in the hands of developers to accelerate the development of accessible and intelligent AI solutions to benefit them, Microsoft said in a blog post. "AI advances like these offer enormous potential by enabling people with vision, hearing, cognitive, learning, mobility disabilities and mental health conditions do more in three specific scenarios: employment, modern life and human connection," the blog said.
It noted that around the world, only one in 10 people with disabilities has access to assistive technologies and products. "By making AI solutions more widely available, we believe technology can have a broad impact on this important community," the blog added. Under the programme, Microsoft will provide seed grants of technology to developers, universities, non-governmental organisations, and inventors taking an AI-first approach.
It will identify projects that show promise and make larger investments of technology and access to Microsoft AI experts to help bring them to scale. Then, the Redmond-based company will work with its partners to incorporate these innovations into platform-level services to empower others to maximise the accessibility of the offerings.
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The company said it has been putting to work stronger solutions like real-time speech-to-text transcription, visual recognition services and predictive text functionality. The blog cited examples of how its technologies were helping people with disabilities. Microsoft Translator empowers people who are deaf or hard of hearing with real-time captioning of conversations, while the Helpicto app turns voice commands into images and is enabling children in France with autism to better understand situations and communicate with others.
The Seeing AI and auto alt-text features are helping narrate the world for people who are blind or low vision, the blog said.