Rochester Institute of Technology empowers students who are deaf with AI real-time captions

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Today, the Microsoft AI & Research team shared the details of a collaboration with the Rochester Institute of Technology’s (RIT) National Technical Institute for the Deaf to empower students and teachers with AI technology. During lectures and discussions in classrooms, Microsoft Translator, an AI-powered speech and language technology, is helping to support students who are deaf or hard of hearing with the use of real-time captioning.

Classrooms feature Presentation Translator, an Office add-in for PowerPoint, displayed on screens and professors are equipped with Microsoft Translator to generate real-time speech-to-text captions of their lecture. This translation tool uses an advanced form of automatic speech recognition that converts raw spoken language to fluent, punctuated texts. Students also have the option to use the Microsoft Translator app on their laptop or mobile device for real-time captions in the language of their choice.

“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 lost his hearing seven years ago.

The service is receiving great feedback from students across the campus, including those who are hearing, who use the service to pick up material they missed and save the transcripts as study aids. When you design for accessibility, you design for all, including the one billion people in the world with disabilities.