Chief Accessibility Officer, Microsoft
As Chief Accessibility Officer at Microsoft, Rob Sinclair is responsible for the company's worldwide strategy to develop software and services that make it easier for people of all ages and abilities to see, hear, and use their computers. Sinclair manages the corporate accessibility strategy from within Microsoft Trustworthy Computing division, which focuses on integrity and responsibility in business practices.
Sinclair believes that addressing the needs of people with a wide range of abilities is the key to transforming and improving the way everyone interacts with our increasingly digital world.
"Today, people are required to adapt to every piece of technology they encounter—whether on their desks, in their phones, their cars, or new home appliances. It is becoming a significant challenge," Sinclair says. "The future lies in a new generation of technology that automatically adapts to a person’s individual needs, preferences, and immediate surroundings, to create an optimal user experience."
Sinclair joined Microsoft in 1997 and quickly became involved with the company’s nascent accessibility effort. In 1998, he was given responsibility for the Microsoft Active Accessibility (MSAA) developer technology. He led the team that created Microsoft UI Automation (UIA)—the successor to MSAA and a new approach to exchanging information between applications and assistive technology products, such as screen readers and screen magnifiers.
In 2007, Sinclair took charge of the company’s worldwide accessibility program and began planning a renaissance in the Microsoft approach. This transformation began by moving his team into the Trustworthy Computing Division where it could align with security, privacy, reliability, and other foundational elements of modern software engineering.
During a keynote presentation later that year, Sinclair first spoke about the importance of Inclusive Innovation—a call to action for business leaders and technologists to thoughtfully design and introduce new products into the market in a way that avoids marginalizing the aging or disability communities. Sinclair points to the expanding digital divide and the increasing complexity of our digital lifestyle as evidence that inclusion and innovation are often viewed as competing goals. Today, he is one of the leading proponents for the formation of an international society of accessibility professionals.
Sinclair has served on a number of advisory boards and currently chairs the steering committee of the Accessibility Interoperability Alliance (AIA)—an organization he helped to create and that later became the engineering division of the Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA). In his role as Chief Accessibility Officer for Microsoft, he also consults and communicates regularly with business leaders, engineers, advocacy organizations and government leaders around the world.
Sinclair is a native Texan and a U.S. Air Force veteran who lives near Seattle, Washington, with his wife of 20 years. His master’s degree in computer science from New Mexico State University included a focus on usability and user-centered design, and he is the lead inventor or contributor to a dozen patents awarded in the areas of accessibility and digital photography. He is an international award-winning nature and wildlife photographer who supports the protection of wildlife and the preservation of wild places.