Accessibility

Microsoft Invests in AI for Accessibility

Overview CES® 2021 keynote company and technology partner Microsoft is committed to influencing the future of technology to ensure global independent living and inclusion, supported by artificial intelligence and machine learning solutions.

Today, only one in 10 people in need have access to assistive technologies due to high costs and a lack of awareness, availability, trained personnel, policy and financing, and more than 1 billion people worldwide need assistive products.

CES 2021 keynote company and technology partner Microsoft believes that artificial intelligence (AI) can help create solutions that empower people with disabilities and amplify human capabilities.

The company’s AI for Accessibility program aims to ensure inclusion through society by leveraging the power of AI and investing in projects developed by or with people with disabilities and who understand the communities they benefit.

 

Four Focus Areas for Accessibility Projects

Microsoft sees four areas in particular that can benefit from accessible AI solutions.

  • Education: AI can ensure the accessibility of learning materials, language development and assistive technology options. Innovations enabled by AI can advance equity for people with disabilities.

  • Employment: AI can help people develop skills in the workplace and evolve the culture around inclusive hiring and economic recovery.

  • Community: Communication is fundamental to equal access; AI-powered solutions can create possibilities regardless of how a person listens, speaks or writes.

  • Home: By making software and devices smarter and more contextually relevant, we can reimagine societal inclusion and independent living for people with disabilities.

 

Educating AI with All the Information

Currently, a lack of data in AI systems causes biases in machine learning algorithms. To help make AI systems and machine learning more inclusive of people with disabilities, there must be more data to educate the AI systems.

As part of the AI for Accessibility program, grantees are provided with ethical frameworks to help reduce bias in solutions and ultimately create AI systems that take into account various needs.
The projects in the program may in turn influence future AI systems and be a catalyst for more inclusive technology solutions.

 

AI technologies hold great potential for removing access barriers and improving capabilities for users with various needs. By engaging in discussions about accessibility in the innovation process — and making sure people with disabilities have a voice in these decisions — innovators can address the bias and inclusivity concerns in AI systems.

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