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Microsoft introduces real-time captions, translations to Skype, PowerPoint

December 17, 2018

Microsoft is all set to become inclusive. They are going to introduce live captioning and subtitles to their products Skype and PowerPoint. The news was announced on World Disability Day on 3 December. This latest move that is powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI) by the technology giant is lauded and appreciated by deaf people. Those who do not understand certain languages will also benefit by this new subtitling option.

People with and without disabilities from across the globe lauded Microsoft's efforts to move towards inclusion.

Got to see @RITNTID use of @Microsoft captioning in action this morning. The smile on my face will take days to wipe off. The partnership with their technical and cultural expertise has been fundamental to development of these features so far. Exciting week!- Jenny Lay Flurrie, Chief Accessibility Officer, Microsoft

This is not the first time that technology giants are coming forward with accessibility features. Apple's iOS has numerous exclusive features for deaf and blind people and those with autism or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Reportedly, this new live caption and subtitles from Microsoft will support 12 spoken languages.

"Exciting! Microsoft to release real-time captioning capabilities in PowerPoint. 90% of the team have disabilities! & they piloted w/Rochester Institute of Technology researchers, among the best Deaf & hard of hearing assistive technology scholars. #A11Y", tweeted Cynthia Bennett.

Eventhough this new move is welcome, it also raises many questions and concerns amongst deaf community.

"There is no doubt that subtitles assist us. But I don't know how practical this is going to be. Subtitle recognition during real time chats is not going to be practical. I use closed captioning for Netflix and it is great because it is already pre-scripted. It is also helpful for people who are not deaf because you can understand a foreign language better. But conversations are always random. How can that be captioned? So having subtitles on Skype is just impossible to imagine, especially the accents", says Atharv Beloskar, a deaf student from Indian Institute of Technology in Mumbai.

This new feature of Microsoft is all set to roll out by January 2019. It will be supported in PowerPoint on Windows 10, PowerPoint for Mac, and PowerPoint Online.

ALSO READ: Artificial Intelligence makes a huge impact in lives of disabled people

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