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In brief: Microsoft is killing two birds with one stone as its new feature makes PowerPoint more accessible to those with disabilities while simultaneously catering to those who speak a different language than the presenter.
Live presentations can be a powerful platform to teach and inspire but not everyone experiences them in the same manner. If you speak a different language than a presenter or are hard of hearing or deaf, you may not get as much out of a presentation as someone without those barriers.
Microsoft is looking to level the playing field in PowerPoint with live captions and subtitles.
Starting in late January 2019 for Office 365 subscribers, PowerPoint will have the ability to provide captions and subtitles in real-time. At launch, the AI-powered feature will support 12 spokes languages and 60+ caption / subtitle languages.
Microsoft said its speech recognition tech can automatically adapt to the presented content for more accurate recognition of specialized terminology and names. Presenters will also have the ability to customize the size, position and appearance of subtitles.
A similar feature already exists as an add-on called Presentation Translator although it's not quite as robust as what Microsoft is getting ready to bake directly into PowerPoint.
Microsoft this past May announced a five-year, $25 million initiative to use artificial intelligence to improve the lives of people with disabilities. Over the past three years, the Redmond tech giant has added some 30 accessibility features to Office 365.
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