A.I. for Accessibility
By James Pickard
Hey all…it’s me hailing from Moscow Idaho, the gate way to Idaho’s beautiful panhandle. I wanted to share with you news that I came across the other day that I found interesting. Microsoft had some interesting facts about assistive technology (AI) and the availability of it to the populace. In their article Using AI to empower people with disabilities Mr. Smith says only one in ten people with disabilities in the world has access to AI. So, to help out the disability community Microsoft is creating a new program called AI for Accessibility. This bad boy is going to cost a cool $25 mil and take five years to implement WHOA….
The AI program will focus on solutions which will provide new opportunities by assisting in the areas of work, everyday life, and human connections. To accomplish this brave new task, Microsoft is going to break up this program into three parts. First they will provide seed grants for technology to various interest groups, then they will identify project areas that show the most promise and provide technology investments and AI experts. And finally, Microsoft will work with their partners to integrate this new program into platform level services.
Microsoft feels they have a good base already established in this field through Seeing AI, Helpicto and Microsoft Translator. Here’s a little blurb with links about each of these products to refresh your memory (and mine too). Seeing AI reads text, scans barcodes, recognizes faces and scenes. Microsoft will be updating Seeing AI in December adding four more capabilities. These new features are color and currency recognition, currency, musical light detector, and handwriting recognition. Now the Helpicto helps children with autism to communicate more easily with their environment, based upon pictograms and associated keywords. Lastly, Microsoft Translator is a multilingual translation cloud service with interprets text, pictures, websites, documents, and even full conversations.
Just to throw another nugget of info your way, check out Microsoft’s AI for Earth which is another fascinating program. This has various tools to aid in solving environmental issues. The focus at this time is Microsoft’s carbon footprint, use of energy, use of water, and their products design to foster sound environmental practices. Sounds interesting…check out any of the links. Especially check out the WHO (World Health Organization) link on Microsoft’s AI for Accessibility page to learn facts about availability to AI products around the world.
Thanks for coming along and spending time with me on this little excursion. Remember if you have any questions on things related to disability you can always contact your local independent living center for help.