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How Rochester Institute of Technology uses Microsoft Translator to scale accessibility support in its classrooms

Empowering classrooms to be more inclusive for students who are deaf or hard of hearing students is a key mission of the Rochester Institute of Technology’s (RIT) National Technical Institute for the Deaf.

To scale this mission, RIT brought in Microsoft Translator’s AI-powered Presentation Translator. Using AI-powered speech and language technology, the PowerPoint add-in automatically creates real-time captions, helping to support students who are deaf or hard of hearing use the feature as another way to follow along the lecture from the screen in the front of the room or their laptops or mobile devices.

Presentation Translator, which exposes the Microsoft Translator live feature in PowerPoint, uses advanced automatic speech recognition to convert raw spoken language into fluent, punctuated text. To properly caption the technical terms that come up in a higher education classroom, Presentation Translator speech recognition models can also be tuned to better recognize unique terminology spoken by the presenter.

If the students are more comfortable with a language other than English, they can also view translations of the spoken text on their device in any of the over 60 languages supported by Microsoft Translator.

Microsoft Translator first introduced Presentation Translator to RIT in the fall quarter of 2017, and already 10 of RIT’s classrooms are equipped with the AI-powered real time captioning service.

“The first time I saw it running, I was so excited; I thought, ‘Wow, I can get information at the same time as my hearing peers,’” said Joseph Adjei, a first-year student from Ghana, who experienced hearing loss seven years ago.

You can download the Presentation Translator for PowerPoint now to add live captioning or multilingual subtitling to your presentations. Your audience can also view captions on the web, or in the apps for Android, iOS, Amazon Fire, and Windows.

View the full video showing RIT’s experience with Presentation Translator to empower students who are deaf or hard of hearing below and read the full Microsoft AI blog post.