Research and Development Projects Related to Accessibility

Illustration of gearsMicrosoft Research is dedicated to conducting both basic and applied research in computer science and software engineering. Researchers focus on more than 60 areas of computing, and collaborate with leading academic, government, and industry researchers to advance the state of the art.

Microsoft Research sponsors numerous projects with potential accessibility applications. Many of these research projects aim to make computers more capable and useful. Thanks to Microsoft Research advances, computers are learning to adapt to user behavior and to anticipate human needs and preferences and individuals can take a break from typing and instead use speech, touch, or handwriting in digital ink.

Research advances can lead to a unique product coming to the market, such as the Xbox Kinect. The science behind Kinect came from multiple research areas, including depth sensing, speech recognition, gestural interface, computer vision, and sound processing. See Kinect for Xbox 360 Brings Gaming to Kids with Disabilities.

Areas of focus include:

  • Adaptive Systems and Interaction group which pursues advances in principles of intelligence and interaction and applications of these advances to enhance computational systems and interfaces. The team includes groups exploring foundations of sensing, learning, and decision making, search & retrieval, and human-computer interaction.
  • Natural Language Processing seeks to design and build software that will analyze, understand, and generate languages that humans use naturally, so that eventually you will be able to address your computer as though you were addressing another person.
  • Speech Technology includes research in audio, noise robustness, speech recognition, language modeling, language understanding, and spoken language systems.
  • Natural User Interface (NUI) collaboration projects focus on facilitating the use of future computer paradigms by keeping the human user in mind.
  • Health and Wellbeing collaborates with academic researchers around the world to develop innovative computing technologies and advance research in human health issues. Health and Wellbeing collaboration projects apply advanced computing technologies—such as data analysis, imaging, sensor networks, and visualization—to provide insight into disease and human healthcare.

Following is a sampling of research projects that could provide innovative accessibility enhancements to technology.

Speech and Sound

Language and Learning


Mobility and Dexterity

Microsoft Research

Microsoft researchers and scientists help shape the computing experience of millions of people worldwide, with innovations that enhance virtually every product Microsoft now releases. These innovations have fueled scores of incremental advances and giant technological leaps.