Microsoft announces $25 million AI for Accessibility program

Today is the first day of Microsoft's Build 2018 developer conference, and the day one keynote focuses on things like AI and the intelligent edge. At the event, the company announced AI for Accessibility, a $25 million, five-year initiative that aims to give AI tools to developers for them to create accessible AI solutions for people with disabilities.

Microsoft says that globally, one in 10 people with a disability has access to any kind of assistive technology, and artificial intelligence can be a game-changer. Led by Chief Accessibility Officer Jenny Lay-Flurrie, the program will offer grants to developers, universities, NGOs, and inventors to develop new AI-based solutions for those with disabilities. After the seed grants are given, Microsoft says that it will provide larger investments in the projects that show the most promise. And finally, the firm says that it will work with its new partners to integrate these new AI innovations into platform-level services.

The company has not been shy in regards to telling the world about how much it cares when it comes to the subject of accessibility, and catering to those with disabilities. Some examples of things that the firm is already doing are real-time speech-to-text transcription, predictive text, visual recognition, real-time translation, and more. Microsoft says that these types of things can empower people with physical and mental disabilities in employment, modern life, and human connection.

Ultimately, this is all about connecting people, and as Microsoft always likes to say, empowering them to do more. The firm will continue to invest in AI and accessibility for the foreseeable future, as they're both part of the company's core vision.

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