People with visual handicaps today struggle with the surging technology. Their lack of site prevents them from doing a lot of things with modern technology. Software has been developed over time to somehow allow for these people to still access this golden age of technology. Recently, a group has come up with a new voice assistant for said people. VERSE, Voice Exploration, Retrieval and Search, is software that merges these voice assistant programs with screen readers to allow for better use.


Can VERSE Help?


VERSE is still in the works, but based off of the developers and their demos, this technology could be an extremely positive wave for those with visual impairments. Using your voice, you will be able to fully customize your assistant and ask for all different capabilities of research and screen reading. This is a Microsoft Research technology, so you can definitely expect this tech giant to be showcasing the trials and tribulations of this new tool. Allowing  these people the ability to have a fair chance at research and information in this modern world is ideal for everyone. There are tons of different macros and setups that you can make to better navigate these systems, but I’ll let the expert tell you.


VERSE Experts Are Talking


“People with visual impairments often rely on screen readers, and increasingly voice-based virtual assistants, when interacting with computer systems,” “Virtual assistants are convenient and accessible but lack the ability to deeply engage with content, such as read beyond the first few sentences of an article, list alternative search results and suggestions. In contrast, screen readers allow for deep engagement with accessible content, and provide fine-grained navigation and control, but at the cost of reduced walk-up-and-use convenience. Our prototype, VERSE, adds screen reader-like capabilities to virtual assistants, and allows other devices, such as smartwatches to serve as input accelerators to smart speakers” Alexandra Vtyurina, Intern at Microsoft Research. 

It’s hard not to appreciate the hard work these individuals are putting into this tool to make life easier for those just haven’t. VERSE can definitely be expected to help in our massively technical world. Look forward to more information regarding VERSE from Microsoft over the coming months.

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