Microsoft Leading the Charge to Improve Accessibility

Original article was published by PWV Consultants on Artificial Intelligence on Medium

Microsoft Leading the Charge to Improve Accessibility

Microsoft partners with several non-profits to enhance accessibility functions in technology. They hope to release updates by late 2021, and plan to share their data.

It’s no secret that technology has made some serious advancements over the last several years. The process is always ongoing with new innovations and changes happening every day. With the advancement of technology came the needs for accessibility functions for the differently abled. People with vision impairments can have their device dictate to them. People who struggle to type can utilize talk-to-text functions. There are magnifying glasses and other adaptable features on most devices today. Still, there’s always room for improvement and Microsoft is leading the way.

Currently, the way accessibility functions are designed is imperfect. Of course, nothing is perfect, but the data used to create the AI was not collected from the people who use it. Instead, that data was taken from what we previously considered to be normal. The problem? Our definition of normal needs to be re-evaluated. Enter Microsoft’s collaboration with Team Gleason, a non-profit named for former football player Steve Gleason who was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

One of the primary goals of this collaboration is to adjust facial recognition capabilities. Most facial recognition doesn’t account for people using a headstrap, a ventilator, oxygen, or other assistive devices that might obstruct the look of someone’s face.

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