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Transforming Lives

Tech is transforming our lives. It is improving everyday life for people living with disabilities, offering new tools that make impossible tasks possible. It is delivering lifesaving breakthroughs and treatments for people with medical conditions, providing streamlined and cost-efficient care and hope for healthier, longer lives. And it is working around the clock to keep us safe at home, on the street and at work.

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When natural disasters strike developing areas, the bulk of casualties are caused not by tremors or rain, but from preventable building collapse. To help mitigate and end these tragedies, Autodesk partners with Build Change, an organization ... Read More

When natural disasters strike developing areas, the bulk of casualties are caused not by tremors or rain, but from preventable building collapse. To help mitigate and end these tragedies, Autodesk partners with Build Change, an organization that works with homeowners, construction professionals, and governments to design culturally appropriate, disaster-resistant homes. One of its most successful and cost-effective methods is retrofitting existing homes for typhoon- and earthquake-resistance.

For this life-saving approach, Build Change relies on Autodesk software. To retrofit a home, local engineers use AutoCAD to create 2D drawings and measurements. Data is then moved to 3D generating software Revit with Autodesk Dynamo. These Autodesk programs, modified to create easier access and efficiency, can cut the retrofit design process from two days to just two hours. Saving valuable time and labor lets Build Change return more people to the homes they lost.

Through its partnership with Autodesk, Build Change has retrofitted 61,200 disaster-resistant buildings, housed 332,000 safer people, and created 27,500 local jobs.

Ishwari Majhi

On April 25, 2015, Nepal was hit by a magnitude 8 earthquake. Tremors swept the country, killing nearly 9,000 and injuring 22,000 more. Though the cause of the tragedy was natural disaster, many of the effects were man-made: collapsed buildings.

Ishwari Majhi lives in Nepal’s Eklephant Village, in a two-story stone house with her husband, two children, and father-in-law. The earthquake struck her community particularly hard – 10 houses were destroyed and 22 damaged. Although Ishwari’s home survived the quake, the damage it sustained forced her to relocate her family to a temporary shelter.

Because her house was still standing, Build Change proposed a retrofit. Engineers used the modified version of Autodesk’s Revit to generate 3D designs to plan the retrofit procedure. With the automated engineering and design process, construction took only two and a half months and provided on-the-job training for nine local builders. Soon, Ishwari moved her family back into her earthquake-resistant home for good.

“I am very confident that the house is now safe to live in, with my family.” Ishwari says.

After seeing the success of Ishwari’s retrofit, 18 of her neighbors in Eklephant have joined her, along with over 1,800 homeowners across Nepal.

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Accenture’s Tech4Good program focuses on applying emerging technologies to tackle societal problems. In one program, Drishti, Accenture uses AI technology to help visually-impaired people improve the way they experience the world and enhance ... Read More

Accenture’s Tech4Good program focuses on applying emerging technologies to tackle societal problems. In one program, Drishti, Accenture uses AI technology to help visually-impaired people improve the way they experience the world and enhance their productivity in the workplace. The tool, called Drishti, meaning “vision” in Sanskrit, uses image recognition, language processing and language generation capabilities to describe the environment around a user. Using only a smartphone, Drishti can tell them important details like how many people are in the room, describe emotions through facial expressions, estimate ages and gender and read text from books and currency. It also helps keep users safe, announcing obstacles like doors and other obstructions.

Alan Brint

When Alan Brint began his internship with Accenture, his parents were more than a little worried for their son, who has been blind since birth. They weren’t sure he was ready to navigate to the downtown Chicago office, and they weren’t sure that office would accept him. Alan, meanwhile, wasn’t worried at all.

“Accenture did a great job accommodating my needs,” he said. From the moment Alan interviewed, the company was ready and willing to welcome him to their global team of nearly 450,000 employees. Not only did Accenture work along with his hectic school schedule, but it introduced him to Job Access With Speech (JAWS), a screen reader program that allowed him to be productive. In the end, Alan called his internship at Accenture “nothing short of life-changing.” The opportunity allowed him to gain valuable insight into how he can exceed expectations in a corporate environment as well as give Accenture the experience to increase their disability inclusion competency. Following his internship, Alan is continuing on as a full-time employee at Accenture.

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Microsoft partnered with the Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf to give students and teachers a new tool to communicate -- Microsoft Translator. The tool uses AI-powered speech and language technology ... Read More

Microsoft partnered with the Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf to give students and teachers a new tool to communicate -- Microsoft Translator. The tool uses AI-powered speech and language technology to create real-time captioning services for deaf or hard of hearing students. As the instructor speaks, users’ headsets pick up their teacher’s words and instantly show them in fluent text on their laptop, mobile device or a screen in the front of the room. This gives students the option to read their lesson as an alternative to following American Sign Language (ASL). Microsoft Translator is available in over 60 languages.

Joseph Adjei

When Joseph Adjei enrolled as a first-year at the Rochester Institute of Technology, he struggled as a newly-deaf student from Ghana. “Where I lived,” Joseph said, “they believed that deaf people can’t do anything.” In class he tried to read lips, but he hadn’t yet learned ASL. “It was very, very difficult.”

Everything changed when Joseph’s class began using Microsoft Translator—a program that uses artificial intelligence to create real-time speech captions. “The first time I saw it running, I was so excited,” he said. “I thought, ‘Wow, I can get information the same as my hearing peers.’”

Technology transformed Joseph’s college experience. It opened the door to new skills and allowed him to learn and communicate in innovative ways. Yet Joseph’s story is not unlike the billions whose lives have been touched by tech. All over the world, tech is unleashing new potential for our society and economy.

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VMware partnered with the Phoenix, Arizona-based Make-A-Wish Foundation to help the organization fulfill its mission of granting wishes to children with life-threatening medical conditions from 50 countries across the globe. As Make-A-Wish started ... Read More

VMware partnered with the Phoenix, Arizona-based Make-A-Wish Foundation to help the organization fulfill its mission of granting wishes to children with life-threatening medical conditions from 50 countries across the globe. As Make-A-Wish started to receive more and more wishes from digital sources, including social media, it turned to VMware to transform its digital offering and modernize its IT and software needs. Using VMware’s cloud-first approach from PhoenixNAP, a premier VMware Cloud Provider partner, Make-A-Wish was able to significantly improve its IT infrastructure’s speed and agility, allowing Make-A-Wish to handle larger online traffic and better support the lifeblood of their organization -- online donations. Importantly, this updated approach transformed the Make-A-Wish application process, meaning it can grant more wishes to more children in shorter time frames.

Make-A-Wish Foundation

Every year, over 27,000 children are diagnosed with life threatening medical conditions. The Make-A-Wish Foundation aims to enrich the human experience with strength, joy and hope by granting wishes for eligible children. However, in 2014, the organization realized it needed to turn to technology to help improve its ability to meet its mission. This digital transformation took hold when Make-A-Wish was featured on a 60 Minutes segment and its websites couldn’t handle the traffic. By incorporating VMware technology, Make-A-Wish is able to give individuals a faster, smoother, and streamlined experience, making it easier for them to submit wishes and make donations, which is a key way the organization meets its mission.

Further, by utilizing a central cloud-based platform, the technology removes many of the logistical and time constraints for the organization’s local chapters. “What we’re trying to do is reduce the time frame from the time a wish originated, bringing all the players in the ecosystem, compress the time frames, so that we can provide more wishes to more kids.” notes Bipin Jayarai, Chief Information Officer with Make-A-Wish Foundation. Through this technology shift, the Make-A-Wish Foundation is coming closer to making sure that every eligible child’s wish comes true.