Microsoft's New Voice Tool for Speech Disabilities Coming Soon

Microsoft is showing off new tools and updates at its 14th Ability Summit. The summit focuses on helping people with disabilities through technology. One of the main highlights is a feature called "Speak For Me." This new tool, arriving later this year, will help people with ALS and other speech disabilities talk using special computer-generated voices. Microsoft has been working on this project with partners like Team Gleason, a nonprofit ALS organization.

The company is also planning to almost double the data available for ALS research with help from Answer ALS and the ALS Therapy Development Institute. This is big news for those studying the disease.

Microsoft is also updating Copilot this month to help with accessibility. Copilot will be able to start helpful tools like Live Caption and Narrator. Another feature, the Accessibility Assistant in M365 apps like Word, is available today in a preview version. It will help make apps like Outlook and PowerPoint easier for everyone to use.

Microsoft is releasing four new guides, including one on mental health. These guides give advice on making technology that supports mental health, created with Mental Health America.

Jenny Lay-Flurrie, who leads accessibility at Microsoft, talked about how important AI is in creating tools for people with disabilities. She said that while AI isn't new, it offers fresh chances to make life easier for people with disabilities. For example, Microsoft 365 Copilot has helped people work faster and more easily.

At the summit, guests like actor Michelle Williams and Microsoft employee Katy Jo Wright will talk about mental health and living with chronic Lyme disease. The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam will also show how it used AI to describe art for people who are blind or have low vision.

Microsoft is focused on making sure its new technology is safe and supports people with disabilities. This year's Ability Summit is all about using technology to help everyone, no matter their abilities.

Image: DIW-AIgen

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