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General Availability of Immersive Reader as an Azure Cognitive Services
Just a few years ago, the Immersive Reader was a bold idea in a Microsoft Hackathon focused on using the latest science and research around reading while using inclusive design principles to empower students of all abilities. Today, more than 23 million people every month are using it, improving their reading and writing comprehension and even their ability to do math problems.
Today, we’re thrilled to announce this powerful literacy tool has reached General Availability as an Azure Cognitive Service, allowing third party apps and partners to add Immersive Reader right into their products. During the public preview period, we’ve had scores of partners integrate the Immersive Reader, and some of them are listed below. The Immersive Reader helps people of all abilities, including dyslexia, ADHD, emerging readers, non-native speakers, people with visual impairments. If there’s an app you love to use in your classroom and you would love to see an Immersive Reader icon show up there soon, let them know. You can also head over to the Azure blog and learn more about this new Cognitive Service.
Get Started Today
To begin exploring how to integration the Immersive Reader into your app or service, here are some helpful getting start links:
- Immersive Reader as a Cognitive Service details: https://aka.ms/ImmersiveReader
- Software Development Kit (SDK): https://github.com/Microsoft/immersive-reader-sdk
- Documentation: https://aka.ms/ImmersiveReaderSDKDocs
- Getting Started videos: https://aka.ms/ImmersiveReaderSDKVideos
We look forward to hearing your feedback, and partners enabling the Immersive Reader to help even more people with reading.
New Partners Integrate Immersive Reader
With today’s announcement of Immersive Reader moving to General Availability, we are excited to announce new partners who are integrating this inclusive tool.
Code.org helps make computer science more inclusive
Code.org is a nonprofit dedicated to expanding access to computer science in schools and increasing participation by women and underrepresented youth. Their vision is that every student in every school has the opportunity to learn computer science, just like biology, chemistry or algebra. To help ensure Code.org can reach every student, they have begun to integrate the Immersive Reader into their platform, and this fall will be rolling this integration out. An example of one way this integration will surface is below.
“We’re thrilled to partner with Microsoft to bring Immersive Reader to the Code.org community,” said Hadi Partovi, founder and CEO of Code.org. “The inclusive capabilities of Immersive Reader to improve reading fluency and comprehension in learners of varied backgrounds, abilities and learning styles directly aligns with our mission to ensure every student in every school has the opportunity to learn computer science.”
SAFARI Montage is the leading K-12 Learning Object Repository, Video Streaming Library, IPTV & Live Media Streaming provider. The system provides an interoperable foundation for a Digital Learning Ecosystem where teachers and students can access procured, created and curated educational digital resources, create playlists and integrate items into their LMS. The inclusion of Immersive Reader from Microsoft inside the SAFARI Montage Learning Object Repository (LOR) enhances the equitable access of SAFARI Montage resources for all learners. It provides ideal support for remote learning as instructions to students written in English will be accessible to virtually any learner, in any language or with any reading ability.
“Immersive Reader is a crucial support for CPS students and families. During remote learning, particularly for our younger learners, student learning is often supported by parents, guardians, or other caregivers. Since Microsoft Immersive Reader can be used to translate the student facing instructions in our digital curriculum, families can support student learning in over 80 languages, making digital learning far more equitable and accessible than ever before! In addition, read-aloud and readability supports are game changers for diverse learners”
– Giovanni Benincasa, UX Manager, Department of Curriculum, Instruction, and Digital Learning, Chicago Public Schools
The embedded video below shows how Immersive Reader helps SAFARI Montage students and educators.
SchoolBox integrates Immersive Reader
The LMS from Schoolbox is a highly customizable learning management system that accommodates a range of modern teaching strategies. Its components support learner interaction, creativity, a growth mindset, student wellbeing, and expands learning beyond the classroom to suit all K–12 learners. Share resources, individualized learning, increase collegiality. To help ensure content is fully accessible and inclusive, SchoolBox has integrated the Immersive Reader. You can see an example in this video.
Immersive Reader is coming to more Microsoft apps!
Microsoft Math Solver and the Immersive Reader make math more inclusive
The Microsoft Math solver web site and IOS and Android apps all help students solve math problems independently. Especially during remote learning, this has been a helpful app for students and families. To ensure all students can access the content in the step-by-step solution aspects of the Math Solver, we are adding the Immersive Reader, including all the capabilities to read math out loud, including more complex equations. You can also translate, use line focus, and all of the other Immersive Reader features.
This has already rolled out to the web version of Math Solver (example GIF below) and is coming to the iOS and Android mobile apps at the end of August.
Immersive Reader coming to Outlook Desktop and the Mail app on Windows 10
Last year we added Read Aloud to Outlook Desktop, and as a result heard from many people around the world about the positive impact this gave to those reading email. Later this fall, in Outlook Desktop we will be rolling out many of the same Immersive Reader capabilities that Word Desktop currently has. An example of how this will look is below.
In addition, we will be bringing this same set of Immersive Reader features to the Mail client on Windows 10 in the 4th quarter of 2020
Microsoft Forms Mobile and Consumer
We launched Immersive Reader in Forms for our Education customers in fall of 2019. This fall we are rolling out Immersive Reader for our consumer Forms customers who use Outlook.com. There will be a switch to enable Immersive Reader for customers who want this capability. In addition, customers using Forms on a mobile phone will also be able to enable the Immersive Reader.
Immersive Reader Enhancements
Immersive Reader SDK 1.1 updates
With today’s announcement of the General Availability of the Immersive Reader as an Azure Cognitive Service, we have also rolled out some top requests from partners to improve our software development kit (SDK). Version 1.1 adds support to have a page read aloud automatically, or to pass in a language parameter and pre-translate content. Developers can read more about our SDK updates here.
10,000+ new Picture Dictionary Images
The Picture Dictionary in the Immersive Reader has been one of our most well-loved capabilities. We’re expanding our partnership with Tobii Boardmaker and including many more images into our Picture Dictionary. For many languages, we will be adding over 10,000 new images, and we expect all current Picture Dictionary languages will get more images. These additional images will show up for Microsoft apps as well as any partner using our Immersive Reader Cognitive Service.
More Neural Text-to-Speech and translation languages
15 new Neural Text-to-Speech (TTS) voices.
We are always looking to broaden the languages and locales of Immersive Reader. Today we are excited to announce 15 new Neural TTS languages for the Immersive Reader. Neural Text-to-Speech is the “human sounding” read aloud voices that we’ve rolled out in a limited number of languages. We’ve added 15 more to Immersive Reader, including: Salma in Arabic (Egypt), Zariyah in Arabic (Saudi Arabia), Alba in Catalan (Spain), Christel in Danish (Denmark), Neerja in English (India), Noora in Finnish (Finland), Swara in Hindi (India), Colette in Dutch (Netherland), Zofia in Polish (Poland), Fernanda in Portuguese (Portugal), Dariya in Russian (Russia), Hillevi in Swedish (Sweden), Achara in Thai (Thailand), HiuGaai in Chinese (Cantonese, Traditional) and HsiaoYu in Chinese (Taiwanese Mandarin). Read the blog for the new list, and explore the full list of Neural TTS languages.
5 new Translate languages in Immersive Reader
Our friends on the Microsoft Translator team have been hard at work launching 5 new languages, and today the Immersive Reader is adding this under our “Translate” menu, for either by Word or entire Document. The new languages are: Gujaratim Marathi, Oriya, Kurdish (Northern), Kurdish (Central), Pashto & Dari.
And this is for folks who like lists!
- Immersive Reader for Azure Cognitive Services (General Availability) – available today
- Safari Montage and Immersive Reader – available today
- SchoolBox and Immersive Reader – available today
- Immersive Reader Cognitive Services SDK 1.1 updates – available today
- 10,000+ new Picture Dictionary Images – coming this fall
- Fifteen New Neural Text to Speech languages – available today
- Five new languages for translation in Immersive Reader- Gujaratim Marathi, Oriya, Kurdish (Northern), Kurdish (Central), Pashto and Dari – available today
- Microsoft Math Solver and Immersive Reader (Web) – available today
- Microsoft Math Solver and Immersive Reader (iOS) – late August
- Microsoft Math Solver and Immersive Reader (Android) – late August
- Forms Consumer and Forms Mobile Immersive Reader – late August
- Code.org and Immersive Reader – Fall, 2020
- Outlook Desktop and Immersive Reader – Fall, 2020
- Mail app on Windows 10 and Immersive Reader – 4th quarter, 2020
We hope you enjoy these new Immersive Reader updates! Don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions or comments.
Principal Product Manager
Brought to you by Dr. Ware, Microsoft Office 365 Silver Partner, Charleston SC.