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6 methods to enhance accessibility with Azure AI | Azure Weblog and Updates

There are over one billion individuals on the planet dwelling with disabilities, and plenty of face obstacles to employment, schooling, and societal inclusion. In 2021, Microsoft launched a brand new five-year initiative to handle these challenges by specializing in three priorities: growing extra accessible know-how, utilizing this know-how to create alternatives for individuals with disabilities to enter the workforce, and constructing a extra inclusive office for individuals with disabilities. The objective is to bridge the incapacity divide and faucet into the untapped expertise pool of individuals with disabilities. Digital know-how can play a vital position in enhancing communication, interplay, and entry to info for this neighborhood.


As know-how continues to advance, it turns into more and more essential for firms to contemplate the accessibility of their services and products, to ensure individuals with disabilities aren’t left behind. Accessibility can also be nice for enterprise. With at the very least one in 5 adults within the U.S. figuring out as having a incapacity based on the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention, the price of ignoring this rising market phase is big. Designing inclusive services and products with individuals with disabilities in thoughts additionally improves the expertise for all customers. Options like video captioning and voice management are essential accessibility instruments for some people however make the expertise higher for everybody. In the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, demand for Microsoft accessibility options equivalent to Groups captioning elevated by 30 occasions the earlier use, and Immersive Reader utilization elevated by 560 p.c. A 2018 research by Accenture in partnership with Incapacity: In and the American Affiliation of Individuals with Disabilities discovered that inclusive firms had, over a four-year interval, 28 p.c larger income, double the online revenue, and 30 p.c larger financial revenue margins than their friends.


Microsoft and Azure AI provide a variety of accessibility options to assist organizations create extra inclusive experiences for his or her customers. These options embody speech transcription and captioning, content material readers, translation providers, voice assistants, facial recognition, and laptop imaginative and prescient. These AI-powered instruments may also help people with disabilities higher entry and have interaction with digital content material, whether or not it is by speech-to-text transcription, picture captioning, or text-to-speech translation.

Six use circumstances

Azure AI powers lots of the accessible experiences discovered inside Microsoft right now. Listed below are a few of our favorites:

  1. Dialog, conferences, and stay broadcasting: Microsoft Groups helps speech-to-text transcription and captioning for conferences and calls, powered by Azure Cognitive Companies, making it simpler for people who find themselves Deaf or Laborious of Listening to to take part in on-line communication. These options additionally profit individuals with ADHD, people who find themselves multi-tasking, or these in noisy or low-bandwidth environments.
  2. Content material studying: Microsoft merchandise equivalent to Outlook, Edge, and PowerPoint embody a read-aloud characteristic, powered by Azure Cognitive Companies, that makes use of text-to-speech know-how to learn net pages, paperwork, and emails aloud. This makes it simpler for people who find themselves blind or have low imaginative and prescient, along with individuals with Dyslexia, ADHD, or Autism to entry and devour digital content material. It additionally allows all customers to multi-task and hearken to content material on the go.
  3. Communication: Microsoft Translator is a translation service that helps speech-to-speech, text-to-speech, and optical character recognition (OCR) to allow communication throughout completely different languages and codecs in Groups or Outlook.
  4. Machine entry: Home windows Whats up makes use of facial recognition know-how, powered by Azure Face API, to permit customers to log in to their gadgets with their face, making it simpler for individuals with mobility disabilities to entry their gadgets, and offering a hands-free, environment friendly login expertise for everybody.
  5. Machine management: Microsoft merchandise equivalent to Home windows and Xbox embody voice assistants powered by speech-to-text know-how, which can be utilized by customers of all talents to manage the machine and entry info and providers by voice instructions.
  6. Pictures and environment: Microsoft Edge, PowerPoint, and Seeing AI are merchandise that embody Azure Laptop Imaginative and prescient capabilities equivalent to picture captioning, which may present descriptive textual content for pictures to make them extra accessible to people who find themselves blind or who’ve low imaginative and prescient. Picture descriptions additionally enhance SEO (search engine optimization) and supply alternate options for individuals listening to content material, or in low-bandwidth environments.

Along with the six use circumstances above, we’re excited to see how prospects leverage the Azure OpenAI Service to enhance accessible experiences. Pure language interactions may also help individuals of all talents interact with know-how in simpler methods. For instance, GitHub CoPilot is a generative coding assistant powered by Azure OpenAI to assist builders construct sooner and extra effectively.

Buyer proof

Some prime prospects utilizing Azure AI for accessibility embody Swedish TV, which makes use of Azure AI to transcribe their video content material and generate closed captioning; Peloton, which makes use of speech-to-text and translation know-how for stay subtitles in its stay courses, enhancing accessibility for members who’re Deaf or Laborious of Listening to; and Gameloft, which makes use of Azure Translator to allow communication in several languages.

2023 Skill Summit

Microsoft is internet hosting its thirteenth annual Skill Summit on March 8, 2023, to showcase firm and buyer innovation on the planet of accessibility and inclusive design. Main as much as the free occasion we’re additionally broadcasting an AI Present on February 27, 2023, devoted to accessible know-how, and on March 6, 2023, to deep dive right into a buyer mission to generate natural-sounding audiobooks at scale. We encourage you to register for these occasions, which can make it easier to develop a plan to enhance inclusion and accessibility inside your group.

Wanting forward

Microsoft and Azure AI are dedicated to serving to organizations create extra inclusive experiences for his or her customers by a variety of accessibility use circumstances. By leveraging these options, firms could make a constructive influence on the lives of individuals with disabilities and assist create a extra accessible world. We stay up for seeing what you construct on behalf of your prospects and finish customers with Azure AI.



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