Microsoft’s neural voice tool for people with speech disabilities arrives later this year

Key Points:

  • Microsoft highlighting developments and collaborations across its portfolio of assistive products, focusing on Azure AI
  • Preview of upcoming feature “Speak For Me” to assist individuals with speech disabilities
  • Significant accessibility updates including new skills for Copilot and the availability of the Accessibility Assistant feature


Microsoft is showcasing advancements in its range of assistive products at its 14th Ability summit, highlighting developments in Azure AI. Recently announced features include AI-powered audio descriptions and the Azure AI studio to aid developers with disabilities in creating machine-learning applications. Updates to the Seeing AI tool offer new languages and richer AI-generated descriptions. The company also introduced playbooks for building accessible campuses and enhancing mental health support.


A forthcoming feature called “Speak For Me” aims to assist individuals with speech disabilities like ALS by providing custom neural voices for communication. Collaboration with organizations such as Team Gleason has been ongoing to ensure responsible technology use. Microsoft is working with Answer ALS and ALS Therapy Development Institute to expand clinical and genomic data for research.


A notable accessibility update is the addition of new skills to Copilot, allowing users to activate Live Caption and Narrator through the assistant. The Accessibility Assistant, announced last year, will soon be available in M365 apps like Word, with plans for Outlook and PowerPoint. Additionally, Microsoft is releasing playbooks covering mental health support and inclusive content creation.


Chief Accessibility Officer Jenny Lay-Flurrie emphasized the importance of responsible and accessible AI in developing assistive technology, stating that generative AI holds potential benefits for improving productivity for individuals with disabilities. Lay-Flurrie highlighted positive feedback from the neurodiverse community on the efficiency of Microsoft 365 Copilot in content creation.



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