Ability Summit 2024: Advancing accessibility with AI technology and innovation – The Official Microsoft Blog – Microsoft

| Jenny Lay-Flurrie – Vice President, Chief Accessibility Officer
Today we kick off the 14th Microsoft Ability Summit, an annual event to bring together thought leaders to discuss how we accelerate accessibility to help bridge the Disability Divide.
There are three key themes to this year’s summit: Build, Imagine, and Include. “Build” invites us to explore how to build accessibly and inclusively by leaning on the insights of disabled talent. “Imagine” dives into best practices for architecting accessible buildings, events, content and products. And “Include” highlights the issues and opportunities AI presents for creators, developers and engineers.
Katy Jo Wright and Dave McCarthy discuss Katy Jo’s journey living with the complex disability, Chronic Lyme Disease. Get insights from deaf creator and performer Leila Hanaumi; international accessibility leaders Sara Minkara, U.S. Special Advisor on International Disability Rights, U.S. Department of State; and  Stephanie Cadieux, Chief Accessibility Officer, Government of Canada. And we’ll be digging into mental health with singer, actor and mental health advocate, Michelle Williams.
We’ll also be launching a few things along the way.
Accessible technology is crucial to empowering the 1.3 billion-plus people with disabilities globally. With this new chapter of AI, the possibilities are growing, as is the responsibility to get it right. We are learning where AI can be impactful, from the potential to shorten the gap between thoughts and action, to making it easier to code and create. But there is more to do, and we will continue to leverage every tool in the technology toolbox to advance accessibility.
Today we’ll be highlighting the latest technology and tools from Microsoft to help achieve this goal including:
Technology can also help tackle long enduring challenges, like finding a cure for ALS (Motor Neuron Disease). With Azure, we are proudly supporting ALS Therapy Development Institute (TDI) and Answer ALS to almost double the clinical and genomic data available for research. In 2021, Answer ALS provided open access to its research through an Azure Data Portal, Neuromine. This data has since enabled over 300 independent research projects around the world. The addition of ALS TDI’s data from the ongoing ALS Research Collaborative (ARC) study will allow researchers to accelerate the journey to find a cure.
We will also be previewing some of our ongoing work to use Custom Neural Voice to empower people with ALS and other speech disabilities to have their voice. We have been working with the community including Team Gleason for some time and are committed to making sure this technology is used for good and plan to launch later in the year.
YouTube Video

To build inclusively in an increasingly digital world, we need to protect fundamental rights and will be sharing partnerships advancing this across the community throughout the day.
This includes:
All through the Ability Summit, industry leaders will be sharing their learnings and best practices. Today we are posting four new Microsoft playbooks, sharing our learnings from working on our physical, event and digital environment. This includes a new Mental Health toolkit, with tips for product makers to build experiences that support mental health conditions, created in partnership with Mental Health America.  And “Accessible and Inclusive Workplace Handbook,” with best practices for building an accessible campus from our Global Workplace Services team, responsible for our global building footprint including the new Redmond headquarters campus.
Please join us to watch content on demand via www.aka.ms/AbilitySummit. Technical support is always available via Microsoft’s Disability Answer Desk.  Thank you for your partnership and commitment to build a more accessible future for people with disabilities around the world.
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