There are over one billion individuals on the planet residing with disabilities, and lots of face boundaries to employment, schooling, and societal inclusion. In 2021, Microsoft launched a brand new five-year initiative to handle these challenges by specializing in three priorities: growing extra accessible expertise, utilizing this expertise to create alternatives for individuals with disabilities to enter the workforce, and constructing a extra inclusive office for individuals with disabilities. The objective is to bridge the incapacity divide and faucet into the untapped expertise pool of individuals with disabilities. Digital expertise can play an important position in enhancing communication, interplay, and entry to info for this neighborhood.
As expertise continues to advance, it turns into more and more necessary for corporations to think about the accessibility of their services and products, to verify individuals with disabilities aren’t left behind. Accessibility can be nice for enterprise. With no less than one in 5 adults within the U.S. figuring out as having a incapacity based on the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention, the price of ignoring this rising market section is big. Designing inclusive services and products with individuals with disabilities in thoughts additionally improves the expertise for all customers. Options like video captioning and voice management are essential accessibility instruments for some people however make the expertise higher for everybody. In the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, demand for Microsoft accessibility options resembling Groups captioning elevated by 30 instances the earlier use, and Immersive Reader utilization elevated by 560 %. A 2018 examine by Accenture in partnership with Incapacity: In and the American Affiliation of Folks with Disabilities discovered that inclusive corporations had, over a four-year interval, 28 % increased income, double the online earnings, and 30 % increased financial revenue margins than their friends.
Microsoft and Azure AI supply a variety of accessibility options to assist organizations create extra inclusive experiences for his or her customers. These options embody speech transcription and captioning, content material readers, translation providers, voice assistants, facial recognition, and pc imaginative and prescient. These AI-powered instruments will help people with disabilities higher entry and interact with digital content material, whether or not it is by speech-to-text transcription, picture captioning, or text-to-speech translation.
Six use circumstances
Azure AI powers lots of the accessible experiences discovered inside Microsoft in the present day. Listed below are a few of our favorites:
- Dialog, conferences, and stay broadcasting: Microsoft Groups helps speech-to-text transcription and captioning for conferences and calls, powered by Azure Cognitive Providers, making it simpler for people who find themselves Deaf or Exhausting of Listening to to take part in on-line communication. These options additionally profit individuals with ADHD, people who find themselves multi-tasking, or these in noisy or low-bandwidth environments.
- Content material studying: Microsoft merchandise resembling Outlook, Edge, and PowerPoint embody a read-aloud characteristic, powered by Azure Cognitive Providers, that makes use of text-to-speech expertise to learn internet pages, paperwork, and emails aloud. This makes it simpler for people who find themselves blind or have low imaginative and prescient, along with individuals with Dyslexia, ADHD, or Autism to entry and eat digital content material. It additionally allows all customers to multi-task and take heed to content material on the go.
- Communication: Microsoft Translator is a translation service that helps speech-to-speech, text-to-speech, and optical character recognition (OCR) to allow communication throughout completely different languages and codecs in Groups or Outlook.
- Gadget entry: Home windows Hey makes use of facial recognition expertise, powered by Azure Face API, to permit customers to log in to their gadgets with their face, making it simpler for individuals with mobility disabilities to entry their gadgets, and offering a hands-free, environment friendly login expertise for everybody.
- Gadget management: Microsoft merchandise resembling Home windows and Xbox embody voice assistants powered by speech-to-text expertise, which can be utilized by customers of all skills to manage the gadget and entry info and providers by voice instructions.
- Photographs and environment: Microsoft Edge, PowerPoint, and Seeing AI are merchandise that embody Azure Pc Imaginative and prescient capabilities resembling picture captioning, which might present descriptive textual content for photos to make them extra accessible to people who find themselves blind or who’ve low imaginative and prescient. Picture descriptions additionally enhance search engine marketing (web optimization) and supply options for individuals listening to content material, or in low-bandwidth environments.
Along with the six use circumstances above, we’re excited to see how prospects leverage the Azure OpenAI Service to enhance accessible experiences. Pure language interactions will help individuals of all skills have interaction with expertise in simpler methods. For instance, GitHub CoPilot is a generative coding assistant powered by Azure OpenAI to assist builders construct quicker and extra effectively.
Some high prospects utilizing Azure AI for accessibility embody Swedish TV, which makes use of Azure AI to transcribe their video content material and generate closed captioning; Peloton, which makes use of speech-to-text and translation expertise for stay subtitles in its stay courses, enhancing accessibility for members who’re Deaf or Exhausting of Listening to; and Gameloft, which makes use of Azure Translator to allow communication in numerous languages.
2023 Capacity Summit
Microsoft is internet hosting its thirteenth annual Capacity Summit on March 8, 2023, to showcase firm and buyer innovation on the planet of accessibility and inclusive design. Main as much as the free occasion we’re additionally broadcasting an AI Present on February 27, 2023, devoted to accessible expertise, and on March 6, 2023, to deep dive right into a buyer venture to generate natural-sounding audiobooks at scale. We encourage you to register for these occasions, which is able to make it easier to develop a plan to enhance inclusion and accessibility inside your group.
Microsoft and Azure AI are dedicated to serving to organizations create extra inclusive experiences for his or her customers by a variety of accessibility use circumstances. By leveraging these options, corporations could make a constructive impression on the lives of individuals with disabilities and assist create a extra accessible world. We stay up for seeing what you construct on behalf of your prospects and finish customers with Azure AI.