There are over one billion individuals on the earth dwelling with disabilities, and lots of face obstacles to employment, training, and societal inclusion. In 2021, Microsoft launched a brand new five-year initiative to deal with these challenges by specializing in three priorities: creating 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 a vital function in bettering communication, interplay, and entry to data for this group.
As expertise continues to advance, it turns into more and more essential for firms to think about the accessibility of their services and products, to ensure individuals with disabilities aren’t left behind. Accessibility can be nice for enterprise. With a minimum of one in 5 adults within the U.S. figuring out as having a incapacity in response to the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention, the price of ignoring this rising market phase 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. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, demand for Microsoft accessibility options akin to Groups captioning elevated by 30 occasions the earlier use, and Immersive Reader utilization elevated by 560 p.c. A 2018 research by Accenture in partnership with Incapacity: In and the American Affiliation of Individuals with Disabilities discovered that inclusive firms had, over a four-year interval, 28 p.c larger income, double the web revenue, and 30 p.c larger 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 companies, voice assistants, facial recognition, and laptop imaginative and prescient. These AI-powered instruments may help people with disabilities higher entry and interact with digital content material, whether or not it is via 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 at the moment. Listed here 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 akin to Outlook, Edge, and PowerPoint embody a read-aloud characteristic, powered by Azure Cognitive Providers, that makes use of text-to-speech expertise to learn net 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 permits all customers to multi-task and hearken 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.
- Machine entry: Home windows Whats up makes use of facial recognition expertise, powered by Azure Face API, to permit customers to log in to their units with their face, making it simpler for individuals with mobility disabilities to entry their units, and offering a hands-free, environment friendly login expertise for everybody.
- Machine management: Microsoft merchandise akin to Home windows and Xbox embody voice assistants powered by speech-to-text expertise, which can be utilized by customers of all talents to manage the machine and entry data and companies via voice instructions.
- Photos and environment: Microsoft Edge, PowerPoint, and Seeing AI are merchandise that embody Azure Laptop Imaginative and prescient capabilities akin to 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 (search engine marketing) 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 may help individuals of all talents interact with expertise in simpler methods. For instance, GitHub CoPilot is a generative coding assistant powered by Azure OpenAI to assist builders construct sooner and extra effectively.
Some prime 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 lessons, bettering 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 Potential Summit
Microsoft is internet hosting its 13th annual Potential Summit on March eight, 2023, to showcase firm and buyer innovation on the earth 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 challenge to generate natural-sounding audiobooks at scale. We encourage you to register for these occasions, which is able to enable you 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 via a variety of accessibility use circumstances. By leveraging these options, firms could make a optimistic 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.