Microsoft launches AI for Accessibility

7 May 2018

Microsoft President Brad Smith announced the launch of AI for Accessibility, in his words, 'a new $25 million, five-year program to put AI tools in the hands of developers to accelerate the development of accessible and intelligent AI solutions to benefit the 1 billion-plus people with disabilities around the world'. Smith said that Microsoft seeks to remedy the current situation that only one in 10 people with disabilities has access to needed assistive technologies. Commenting on the launch, c/net's Ian Sherr used the examples of 'apps that describe what people see, better text-to-speech technology and predictive text so people don't have to type as much as technologies that are needed, as features for persons with disabilities come into the mainstream.

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Historically, telecommunications, broadcasting, and other related areas were separate industry segments; they used different technologies and were governed by different regulations.

According to UN estimates, there are 1 billion people with disabilities in the world. The factors that contribute to increasing this number include war and destruction by natural as well as human causes; poverty and unhealthy living conditions; and the absence of knowledge about disability, its causes, prevention, and treatment. The Internet provides new possibilities for social inclusion and for safeguarding the rights of persons with disabilities.


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