Skip to main content

Microsoft wants to empower people with disabilities through AI for Accessibility

AI for Accessibility
Audio player loading…

Last year at Microsoft Build 2017, Project Emma (opens in new tab) was an inspiring highlight of the conference because the project created a wearable watch to help a person with Parkinson’s write. Now Microsoft is greatly expanding its mission to help those with disabilities through AI for Accessibility.

At the Microsoft Build 2018 conference in Seattle, the software maker announced the new $25 million, 5-year program designed to empower one-billion people with disabilities around the world through AI. To this end, Microsoft will put its money and resources towards helping developers to accelerate the development of accessible and intelligent AI solutions.

With its AI for Accessibility program, Microsoft will first seed technology grants to developers, universities, non-government organizations, and inventors creating solutions with an AI-first approach that will create new opportunities and assist people with disabilities in their work, everyday life, and with human connections.

From there Microsoft will identify the most promising projects before offering them larger investments of technology and access to Microsoft AI experts to help them bring their solutions to scale. Lastly, the Redmond company will infuse AI, an inclusive design and work with its partners to incorporate AI innovations into platform level services to maximize the accessibility of all the successful AI for Accessibility solutions. 

Microsoft itself is also developing its own AI for Accessibility solutions including real-time speech-to-text transcription, visual recognition services, and predictive text functionality.

The Redmond company believes AI advances such as these have an enormous amount of potential to enable people with vision, hearing, cognitive, learning, mobility disabilities and mental health conditions.

Kevin Lee was a former computing reporter at TechRadar. Kevin is now the SEO Updates Editor at IGN based in New York. He handles all of the best of tech buying guides while also dipping his hand in the entertainment and games evergreen content. Kevin has over eight years of experience in the tech and games publications with previous bylines at Polygon, PC World, and more. Outside of work, Kevin is major movie buff of cult and bad films. He also regularly plays flight & space sim and racing games. IRL he's a fan of archery, axe throwing, and board games.