Microsoft Unveils $25 Million Disability Initiative
Microsoft is putting big money into a new effort aimed at ramping up development of technologies benefiting people with disabilities.
The company said Monday it will commit $25 million for a five-year program that will make artificial intelligence tools available to developers with the goal of creating “accessible and intelligent” solutions.
“By innovating for people with disabilities, we are innovating for us all,” Microsoft President Brad Smith wrote in a company blog posting about the new program. “By ensuring that technology fulfills its promise to address the broadest societal needs, we can empower everyone — not just individuals with disabilities — to achieve more.”
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Dubbed AI for Accessibility, the initiative unveiled at Microsoft’s annual developer conference in Seattle, will include seed grants for developers, universities and other inventors as well as investments in promising projects and the addition of AI and inclusive design across products from the tech giant and its partners.
Smith said the effort will bring an “expanded mission” to Microsoft’s accessibility team “to provide a new level of tools and support for developers.” Already, he indicated that the company has seen success with AI developments like real-time text-to-speech and predictive-text capabilities.
“AI can be a game changer for people with disabilities,” Smith wrote. “By making AI solutions more widely available, we believe technology can have a broad impact on this important community.”