Microsoft wants to work with developers to create apps that leverage artificial intelligence to help disabled people. A billion people around the world are disabled, Microsoft said. The company announced a new initiative called the AI for Accessibility Initiative, a $25 million five-year initiative to help the disabled get employed, form social connections, and fully participate in modern life.
In the initiative, Microsoft will provide its technology to developers taking an AI-first approach to developing apps that help people with disabilities. The company says it will then identify the best of those apps and provide them with more Microsoft AI technology and expertise. Microsoft will also incorporate AI and inclusive design across its own developer tools and services.
“The era of the intelligent cloud and intelligent edge is upon us,” said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, CEO. “These advancements create incredible developer opportunity and also come with a responsibility to ensure the technology we build is trusted and benefits all.”
This is not Microsoft’s first work on accessibility. At last year’s Build, Microsoft demoed the Seeing AI app, as well as Microsoft Translator. And as Vauhini Vara reported in 2016, the company has led the industry’s efforts to recruit people on the autism spectrum. The company said the new initiative also builds on its AI for Earth initiative, which lends Microsoft cloud and AI resources to developers trying to solve major environmental problems.