The programs intends to bring solutions to 1 billion-plus people with disabilities around the world.
Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) at its annual Build conference launched AI for Accessibility, a new $25 million five-year program to put artificial intelligence (AI) tools in the hands of developers to accelerate the development of AI solutions to benefit people with disabilities.
Brad Smith, president of Microsoft said in a blog post on Monday (May 7) that AI can be a game changer for people with disabilities.
He noted that people are witnessing how those with disabilities expand their use of computers to hear, see and reason with impressive accuracy.
“At Microsoft we’ve been putting to work stronger solutions such as real-time speech-to-text transcription, visual recognition services and predictive text functionality,” Smith said in the blog post. “AI advances like these offer enormous potential by enabling people with vision, hearing, cognitive, learning, mobility disabilities and mental health conditions do more in three specific scenarios: employment, modern life and human connection.”
Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft said that it has a responsibility to ensure that technology is reaching everyone.
“We have taken some of the advances of AI in particular and applied it to accessibility, applied it to help people with disabilities,” Nadella said at the launch of the program.
Smith in his blog post expanded on how the program will work, and said that by innovating for people with disabilities, ‘we are innovating for us all’.
“First, we will provide seed grants of technology to developers, universities, nongovernmental organizations, and inventors taking an AI-first approach focused on creating solutions that will create new opportunities and assist people with disabilities with work, life and human connections,” Smith said.
He said that they will identify the projects that show the most promise and make larger investments of technology and access to Microsoft AI experts to help bring them to scale. Smith further said that they will then infuse AI and inclusive design across our offerings and work with our partners to incorporate AI platform-level services.
According to a World Health Organization report, only one in 10 people with disabilities have access to assistive technologies and products.
“By making AI solutions more widely available, we believe technology can have a broad impact on this important community,” Smith said.
The 2018 Build conference is currently underway in Seattle with Microsoft announcing new plans for AI and cloud services. The event will continue on Tuesday (May 8),where Microsoft is expected to announce its plans for Windows in addition to other services.
The stock of Microsoft is currently trading at $96.51, up 1.41 percent as of 2:40 p.m. EST on Monday. Both TradingView and TipRanks have ‘strong buy’ rankings for the stock with TipRanks having an analyst target price of $109.80.
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Securities Disclosure: I, Bala Yogesh, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.