Low-cost Assistive Technology
80% of people with disabilities live in low- and middle-income countries; only 1 in 10 people have access to assistive technology. We believe that designing relevant assistive technology with and by people with disabilities in these regions will spur innovation and help create better opportunities.
Restricted educational opportunities and unmet classroom accommodations can exclude students with disabilities from many paths to advanced degrees and careers. AI is advancing tools for transcription, translation, and language understanding capabilities.
The unemployment rate for people with disabilities is 2-3 times higher than average and the recent shift to remote work has worsened this disability divide. Investing in inclusive datasets and tools can improve how AI technology is used in recruiting and spark inclusive economic recovery.
Connections are key to maintaining mental health and relationships with family and friends. Mental health is the largest disability segment and a growing concern during the pandemic. AI is modernizing ways to better maintain wellbeing and communicate across differences.
From transportation, to voice-powered interfaces, to tools that do not consider the disability experience – many aspects of daily life exclude people with disabilities. By investing in better use of inclusive data and affordable technology powered by AI, we can reimagine societal inclusion.
Our grants cover costs related to collecting or labelling data, developing models, or other engineering-related work.
Azure & Tech Consulting
We provide Azure compute credits worth $10,000, $15,000, or $20,000 as well as Azure developer support and resources.
You will be included in a supportive community of current grantees and alumni.
We provide a designated mentor based on your grant topic to help unlock the potential of your project.
We give you access to a support platform to craft and share your grant project more widely.
Submit your project proposal via the online application form.
We invite applications from developers, NGO’s, academics, researchers, and inventors to accelerate their work for people with disabilities. This is a global program: Grant applications from all countries are eligible.
If you are worried about not meeting all requirements, please connect to someone in your community who can support you and partner on an application.
Review the proposal requirements document. Your project proposal should describe the accessibility challenge addressed, the technical solution proposed, and its potential impact on people with disabilities. Please follow the application form and be as specific as possible.
AI for Accessibility grant applications are reviewed by Microsoft employees who are directly involved in the AI for Accessibility grant selection process for the sole purpose of proposal review and to determine the grant level to be provided. Projects should be developed with or by people with disabilities. Applications are evaluated on the following criteria:
- Relevance: AI and/or machine learning are core to the project success.
- Impact: Your project clearly elevates education, employment, community, or home outcomes for someone with a disability.
- Data: Your team is open to sharing privacy compliant data for future innovation.
- Feasible: The project is achievable within a one-year timeframe. This could be phase 1 of your project, but there should be tangible deliverables completed each quarter that are wrapped up in 12 months.
- Capable: Your team should have the knowledge and skill to deliver the idea, or you should have a plan to partner with someone who can fill in any gaps.
- Sustainable: The project has room to grow beyond the first year of funding.
- Showcase-able: We want to talk about whatever you deliver!
To estimate the monetary value of Azure computing resources you need, use the Azure calculator. For example, if your plan requires 100,000 Cognitive Services Computer Vision transactions, you will need $100 per month for 12 months, totaling $1,200 in Azure credits for the one-year grant period.
After each application deadline, applicants typically receive a decision by email within 90 days. Select projects are invited to pitch their ideas to a selection committee who will score their projects based on the evaluation criteria. Once projects are selected, part of the award process is aligning on project OKRs and scope which are tracked and reported throughout the 12-months grant period. The project work starts with the official Kickoff Meeting with the AI for Accessibility team.
Yes. This award program is available worldwide.
All IP including background and foreground is solely owned by AI4A grantees. However, we do encourage all our grantees to contribute to and collaborate on open datasets related to your solution.
Please make sure to review the criteria and apply for a grant and we will get back to you.
There are no official restrictions for indirect costs. However, we do our best to ensure that we maximize the amount of cash that goes directly towards engineering, research, or data collection costs. For most universities, this means the cash is a gift to the university, but we also sign a collaboration agreement to ensure we are all on the same page with expectations and deliverables.
If you have questions about the awards program or the application process not answered in this FAQ, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.