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Microsoft’s Annual Capability Summit: Exploring the expertise, individuals, partnerships and insurance policies driving a extra accessible future


Right this moment, we kick off the 13th annual Microsoft Capability Summit, a day devoted to the conversations that may advance the way forward for accessibility and incapacity inclusion. This yr, Microsoft senior leaders together with CEO Satya Nadella, and coverage leaders akin to Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, will be part of us on the summit, together with 20,000 attendees from 100 international locations and the assistance of over 70 presenters, to think about and start the subsequent steps in the direction of the way forward for accessible inclusion. And there’s lots to speak about this yr!

What’s new at this yr’s summit?

Let’s begin with expertise. Accessibility at Microsoft spans each facet of our product portfolio from software program to {hardware} and companies like AI and is a part of our firm tradition. This yr, we’ve a variety of recent and thrilling accessible applied sciences to speak about, together with:

  • New adaptive equipment: Right this moment, we’re asserting we’re extending the customizable 3D printed attachments at present out there for the Microsoft Enterprise Pen and Microsoft Classroom Pen 2 to our current Floor Pen later this yr. The 3D-printed grips are printed via Shapeways and supply new methods for customers with restricted mobility to grip and use the pens and help their creativity and productiveness on their Floor gadgets.
  • ‘Accessibility Assistant’ in M365: As straightforward as checking spelling and grammar, at the moment we’re asserting new Microsoft 365 “Accessibility Assistant” to assist creators produce extra accessible content material. These assistants supply higher defaults, real-time remediation and clear steerage to stop and proper accessibility points. With the latest addition of accessibility checker in Visible Studio, creating inclusively is now simpler for each creators and builders.
  • Microsoft Translator: New languages! Microsoft Translator has at the moment launched 13 new African languages, together with Yoruba, Hausa and Igbo. Microsoft Translator now helps speech-to-text capabilities in 125 languages and lets customers have real-time multi-language conversations, translate menus and road indicators, web sites, paperwork and extra, making expertise extra inclusive for many who are deaf or laborious of listening to world wide.
  • New Inclusive Design for Cognition Guidebook: Launched a brand new Inclusive Design for Cognition Guidebook to assist construct merchandise for individuals with varied cognitive skills.
  • Azure developments: Two bulletins leveraging the Azure platform:
    • Seeing AI: Microsoft’s Seeing AI app makes use of the facility of Azure and AI to empower blind and low imaginative and prescient to navigate the world round them. We launched a brand new Seeing AI collaboration with Haleon and added over 1500 merchandise to the Seeing AI code library. As well as, Seeing AI launched a brand new Indoor Navigation function, permitting somebody who’s blind or has low imaginative and prescient to independently navigate via a constructing by following spatial audio cues.
    • LinkedIn: Right this moment, greater than 40% of LinkedIn posts embrace a minimum of one picture. LinkedIn is including computerized alt-text descriptions and captioning to their platform leveraging Azure Cognitive Companies for imaginative and prescient.
  • Home windows 11: We not too long ago shared enhancements to Home windows 11‘s built-in display screen reader, Narrator, to help extra Braille shows, together with three new Floor shows from HumanWare. Narrator can now work together seamlessly with accessible equipment and the voice entry performance is out of preview, enabling speech navigation entry with Microsoft apps all through Home windows 11.

Accessibility and AI

AI has been a giant matter this yr as we discover ourselves at a historic intersection of alternative and accountability to the world round us. AI has the potential to reinforce human cognitive skills in pondering, reasoning, studying and communication, however the evolution of AI additionally comes with nice accountability and should incorporate and tackle a broad vary of numerous human wants, obstacles, capabilities and experiences.

Microsoft is specializing in Accountable AI, with core ideas of growth particularly targeted on accessibility and incapacity inclusion – construct accessibly, embrace incapacity consultant knowledge and innovate. These ideas and Accountable AI work in live performance to speed up accessibility.

Rising consultant knowledge can also be essential to this course of. Final yr, Microsoft introduced the Speech Accessibility Challenge, a cross-industry partnership with the College of Illinois, Amazon, Apple, Google, Meta and Microsoft to create the various speech knowledge wanted to make voice recognition expertise extra inclusive and helpful for individuals with a variety of numerous speech patterns.

At Capability Summit, we can be speaking concerning the prospects with the new AI-powered Microsoft Bing. From planning an accessible journey to creating writing accessible code simpler, we’re simply firstly of the chances of what AI can supply and we’re listening and studying as we transfer ahead. Please share your experiences as you play!

Microsoft’s dedication to accessibility

Accessible expertise is a basic constructing block that may unlock alternatives in each a part of society and empower individuals throughout the spectrum of incapacity. However it’s not nearly expertise. We’re dedicated to tackling the incapacity divide and studying via our expertise led technique with three extra pillars, Folks, Partnership and Coverage.

On the summit, we’ll discover every of those pillars together with outcomes of our accessibility partnerships with Shell and Haleon, how we are able to progress inclusive hiring and our work with Mentra, and the way forward for transportation coverage in the USA with Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg and Brad Smith. These are only a few examples of how, by working collectively throughout these pillars, we are able to enhance consciousness and utilization of accessible expertise, increase skilling and hiring alternatives, and advocate for insurance policies that advance accessibility as a basic proper.

I stay up for the vital conversations we’ll have at this yr’s summit and hope all of you’ll be part of us. Preserve your concepts and suggestions coming, and for those who want any technical help, do not forget that Incapacity Reply Desk is right here to help you.

Tags: Accessibility, AI, AI for Accessibility, Azure, M365, microsoft translator, seeing AI

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