You are here: Home » News-IANS » General
Business Standard

$25mn Microsoft AI initiative to empower people with disabilities

IANS  |  Seattle (Washington) 

Harnessing the power of (AI) to help people with disabilities, has announced "for Accessibility" -- a new $25 million, five-year programme for developers globally including in

The programme will put tools in the hands of developers to accelerate the development of accessible and intelligent solutions for people with disabilities.

"It is important for us to figure out how to empower more people. It has been a personal passion of mine to help people suffering with disabilities like amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and autism," told the gathering at "Build 2018," the company's annual developers' conference here on Monday.

"AI for is a grand programme for the researchers, NGOs and developers -- providing them with so that they can help over one billion people with disabilities," Nadella added.

Only one in 10 people with disabilities globally has access to and products.

Meanwhile, several applications are currently helping people who are deaf or hard-of-hearing with of conversations.

In India, students are creating AI and (ML)-based apps with the help from Microsoft.

"Practikality" app, developed by Amity International School, Gurugram, is one such to help the differently-abled communicate efficiently.

"It is very interesting to see that students are applying the AI in different ways in several use cases, helping us in industries like and education," Anant Maheshwari, President, Microsoft India, recently told IANS.

The tech giant last year hosted its first "Summit" in

The summit featured unique that empower people with disabilities. These included innovations from non-profit organisations, developed by partners as well as Microsoft solutions.

The "AI for Accessibility" programme will be run by Microsoft team and its leader who is

"By making AI solutions more widely available, we believe can have a broad impact on this important community," said Microsoft

"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," Smith reiterated.

To begin with, the programme will provide seed grants of to developers, universities, non-governmental organisations and inventors.

"Next, we 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.

"Thirdly, as we infuse AI and inclusive design across our offerings, we will help our partners incorporate AI innovations into to empower others to maximise the accessibility of their offerings," Smith informed.

Helpicto, an application that turns voice commands into images, is enabling children in with autism to better understand situations and communicate with others.

"Seeing AI" and auto alt-text features are helping narrate the world for people who are blind or low vision.

Microsoft last year introduced "AI for Earth" -- a comprehensive programme to apply AI towards unlocking solutions to climate, water, agriculture and the biodiversity issues.

(Nishant Arora is in on an invitation from Microsoft. He can be contacted at



(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, May 08 2018. 07:50 IST