These articles and essays feature people and organizations using accessible technology to realize their full potential, and discuss new and developing products, technology, and policy issues impacting people with disabilities.
Diversity and Collaboration Will Drive IAAP’s Success
Rob Sinclair, Microsoft Chief Accessibility Officer, talks about the progress of the International Association of Accessibility Professionals which is “off to a strong start with a diverse group of members from nearly 40 countries.” Sinclair says, “This diversity is essential to achieve our goal of a unified approach to accessibility that is relevant worldwide.”
The Initial Impact of Federal Rules to Encourage Employment of People with Disabilities
The federal government implemented new rules in the spring of 2014 that encourage the hiring of people with disabilities. A story in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette explores the early impact of these new rules, which set a goal for both federal contractors and subcontractors.
Microsoft Expert Elevated Accessibility in Her 12 Years Leading a Key Industry Panel
Microsoft policy expert Laura Ruby ended her 12-year tenure as a leader of accessibility at the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI)—overseeing work that influenced policies and standards around the world.
Surface Pro and Xbox One Help Washington Man Overcome a Life-changing Injury
After Tyler Schrenk was paralyzed from the neck down in an accident, connections many of us take for granted—email, online news websites, Facebook, and other social media—became far more difficult to maintain. Now, a Microsoft Surface Pro is helping Schrenk reconnect, start a new career, and pursue his dreams.
Texas Wins FCC Award for Its New Tools That Help People Create Accessible Microsoft Materials
The Texas state government won a national award for its web-based tools that help people create accessible Microsoft 2010 materials—everything from Word documents to PowerPoint demonstrations.
New Product Allows People to Manage a Wheelchair and Other Devices with One Controller
People in electric wheelchairs can now make calls, send text messages, and generally use many Bluetooth-enabled devices through one wheelchair controller, independent online journal, Medgadget, reports.
Nokia Unveils a New Pocket Magnifier and Accessibility Tool for Lumia Smartphones
Nokia teamed up with the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) to create a magnifier for its Lumia smartphones that could be a helpful tool for vision-impaired users.
High School Students and Seniors Close Digital and Generational Gaps in New Film
The film “Cyber Seniors” tells the story of a group of Canadian high school students who decided to help members of an assisted living center not only figure out technology, but connect through Skype, Facebook, and the Internet.
Dasher Software Remains an Amazing Alternative to Traditional On-Screen Keyboard
Erin Beneteau, a senior learning and development strategist for accessibility at Microsoft, reflects on the development of Dasher, the on-screen keyboard software she was introduced to 17 years ago. “Dasher remains a truly innovative way of thinking about typing and accessibility—a word-prediction program unlike any other I’ve ever seen,” she says.
A Blind Accessibility Engineer Switches from a Mac System to Microsoft Windows
After five years with a Mac-based system, Marco, a veteran of the accessible technology industry, switched back to Windows. Marco, who has been blind his entire life, and uses screen readers, made the move, in part, because his Apple system didn’t have steady, comprehensive fixes.
Learn How to Test Apps for Accessibility on the Windows App Builders Blog
When developers design apps that are accessible—everyone can benefit. On the Windows App Builders Blog, a story explains how developers can test the accessibility of their apps and check for key features, such as clearly visible text.
Accessibility and Technology Take Center Stage at the 2014 Ability Summit
The 2014 Ability Summit explored all of the accessibility work at Microsoft, ranging from panels on the basics of accessibility in technology and accessible web development, to support for parents with special needs children, and employment of people with disabilities.
A Mother with Hearing Loss Is About to Learn About New Microsoft Accessibility Tools
Stephanie Radecki has been using Microsoft products for more than a decade, but she’s especially excited to use the family’s new Kinect for Xbox 360 and Microsoft Office 365 with their accessibility tools for hard-of-hearing and deaf users.
Meet Ryan Asdourian: Microsoft Promoter; Seahawks Mascot; and MS Ambassador
yan Asdourian travels the world promoting Microsoft products in high-tech demonstrations. When he is back in Seattle he puts on a different type of show as the Seahawks mascot Blitz. And, five years ago, the busy tech showman decided to take a third job—becoming an ambassador to raise awareness of Multiple Sclerosis (MS).
Global Accessibility Awareness Day: Ways to Celebrate Digital Inclusion
Global Accessibility Awareness Day, celebrated on May 15, is a great time to help people understand the importance of making websites, software, and other elements of the digital universe accessible to all users.
United Nations Convention Opens a New Era of Disability Policies Around the World
Now that 158 countries/regions have signed the landmark Convention on Rights for Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), it is entering a critical phase as it moves from a blueprint on promoting and protecting the rights of people with disabilities to implementation of that plan around the globe.
Ai Squared and GW Micro Merge. New Company Will Continue to Develop and Support the Window-Eyes for Office Offer
Two leaders in assistive technology for vision-impaired users, Ai Squared and GW Micro, are merging, and the new company will continue providing the Window-Eyes screen reader. The merger combines the maker of the screen magnifier Zoom Text, Ai Squared, with the creator of the popular Window-Eyes screen reader, GW Micro.
Jenny Lay-Flurrie Scaled Plenty of Brick Walls to Become a Leader of Accessibility at Microsoft
Jenny Lay-Flurrie, Microsoft senior director of the Customer Service & Support Trusted Experience team, talks about overcoming "brick-wall moments" in both her life and career and how hiring people with disabilities adds strength to any business.
Closed-Captioned Videos Could Help All Students, Study Suggests
A study published in late 2013 found that a wide range of university students, not just those who are deaf or have limited hearing, could benefit from using closed-captioned videos in classrooms.
New Association of Accessibility Professionals Kicks Off Work with New Members and Great Support
The International Association of Accessibility Professionals (IAAP) was officially launched with a kick-off event at the CSUN International Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference, gathering support, momentum, and hundreds of new members.
News Story Explores Braille’s Role and Use in Accessible Technology and the Digital Age
In some ways Braille was one of the original accessible technologies, one that opened up a universe of books and reading material to blind readers. The explosion of modern technology, though, is changing how Braille is used.
Assistive Technology Helps Workers with Dyslexia on the Job
In this Microsoft Accessibility blog, Erin Beneteau, a senior learning and development strategist for accessibility at Microsoft, talks about her experiences helping two people with dyslexia find the tools they needed to succeed in the workplace.
Microsoft Accessibility Leader Ann Marie Rohaly Wins National Broadcasting Award for Her Closed Captioning Work
Ann Marie Rohaly, a Microsoft accessibility leader, was honored as a 2014 Woman to Watch for her work to make movies, television shows, and other video accessible to everyone—including viewers with disabilities. The national broadcasting award from TVNewsCheck recognizes Rohaly for more than 15 years of work on digital media, including work on closed captioning standards that improved accessibility as video content increasingly moved online.
Innovation Isn’t Just for the Young, it’s for Everyone, European Leader Says
“Aging isn't a problem, but a source of innovation and growth. It's not just an expanding cost to be cut, but a growing market opportunity to be served. We shouldn't protect powers and practices, but must come together to share, and see how we can do things differently,” says Neelie Kroes, chief of the European Commission’s digital agenda in this Microsoft Accessibility blog.
Three New Samsung Smartphone Accessories Show the Universal Appeal of Accessibility
Accessibility is increasingly a mainstream issue, as companies, developers and consumers recognize that accessibility is about giving all people, including people with disabilities, new tools and ways to interact with the world. Samsung is one of the latest to expand the universe of accessibility by creating three new products for its Galaxy Core Advance smartphone. Learn more in this Microsoft Accessibility blog.
It’s Official: The International Association of Accessibility Professionals Launches
The International Association of Accessibility Professionals (IAAP) officially began accepting membership applications in March, 2014—an important step in elevating, defining, and improving accessibility as a profession around the world.
Researcher Sees Accessibility Becoming an Integrated Part of Technology Design
Sara Hendren is a researcher and artist who works in the area of design, accessibility, adaptive and assistive technologies, prosthetics, and cultural and political representations of disability. When she looks at smartphones, laptops, and tablets she sees how these tools assist users. She also doesn’t see the difference between those devices and what has traditionally been known as assistive technology designed for users with disabilities.
Europe’s New Accessibility Procurement Standard Can Be a Model for the World
Laura Rudy, Director of Accessibility Policy and Standards at Microsoft, says that, after years of study and deliberation, European standards bodies have released technical requirements for public procurement of information and communication technology (ICT) that can be a model for governments and organizations around the world on how to evaluate accessibility when buying information technology.
Marlee Matlin: Xbox One Opened a New Gateway to Closed Captioned Movies and TV
Academy Award-winning actress Marlee Matlin was instrumental in getting legislation passed that required closed captioning for broadcast and broadband content. She has been honored by President Barack Obama for her advocacy work on behalf of the deaf community. In this Microsoft Accessibility blog post, Matlin talks about accessibility and Xbox One.
The Power of Technology Is Expanding the Use of Memory-Assisting Tools
Erin Beneteau, a senior learning and development strategist for accessibility at Microsoft, uses examples from her own life in illustrating how apps that help her manage her daily life can also assist people with memory impairments. “The key is to ensure these apps have interfaces that are easy to use, navigate, and access—then they can truly change lives,” she says.
The Cloud Can Support a New Generation of Accessible Technologies
The cloud serves as a virtual glue that connects a user's devices, says Rob Sinclair, Microsoft Chief Accessibility Officer, in this Microsoft Accessibility blog. It can hold preferences and settings, including accessibility tools, and allows features to follow a user from device to device. Tomorrow, the cloud will support an even larger universe of accessibility services that will create a more inclusive society.
Microsoft Employees Launch a New College Scholarship for Students with Disabilities
Microsoft employees have created a new scholarship that will encourage more high school seniors living with a disability to enroll in college, realize the impact technology can have on the world, and explore careers in technology.
Recognizing American Sign Language on International Mother Language Day
Microsoft embraces the spirit of International Mother Language Day by helping to uphold local languages and cultural identities through its Local Language Program (LLP). On the occasion the Microsoft Accessibility unit celebrated American Sign Language (ASL) and its role in the lives of individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing.
New Skills for New Jobs: Challenges and Opportunities for People with Disabilities
Microsoft partnered with the European Disability Forum (EDF) to explore a roadmap for better employment opportunities for people with disabilities at the "New Skills for New Jobs: Challenges and Opportunities for People with Disabilities" event which brought together experts from disabled persons organizations, the European Commission and Parliament, and industry.
Industry Standards at Work: Improving Closed Captioning of Internet Video
Eight years ago, five companies saw the future of video. Microsoft, Yahoo, AOL, Google, and WGBH realized television shows and movies increasingly will be delivered on the Internet and understood that industry approaches to closed captions on television were not compatible with the Internet. So, the companies formed the Internet Captioning Forum to work on solutions.
Microsoft Asks People to "Do 1 Thing"
Ellen Kampel, Public Relations Manager for Accessibility at Microsoft discusses addressing online risks and how education and diligence are key to help ensure safer digital experiences.
Scientists Explore How Technology Can Expand Human Rights for People with Disabilities—and Everyone
James Thurston, Director of International Accessibility Policy at Microsoft, discusses the annual meeting of the Human Rights Coalition of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington, DC, where scientists and technologists together explored how technology could expand and safeguard human rights.
Blind and Low-Vision Seniors Dance and Bowl with Microsoft Xbox Games
A public-private partnership between Microsoft, NYC Department for the Aging (DFTA), and NYC Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DoITT) brings seniors together to exercise and socialize. “Exergaming” combines technology with exercise, allowing seniors to improve their physical, mental and social well-being by participating in friendly competition and interactive gaming. More features: NYC LGBT Seniors Compete in Virtual Bowling Tournaments with Microsoft Xbox, and Breaking Barriers: Exergamers NYC Project at Selfhelp in Queens.
Super Seattle Sunday Shows the Power of Accessible Technology
Microsoft aired its first national Super Bowl commercial during Super Bowl XLVIII. The ad highlighted “the essence of what we do every day,” says Rob Sinclair, Microsoft Chief Accessibility Officer, “help build technology that empowers people of all ages and abilities to achieve their full potential.” See also, Accessibility Makes It to Super Bowl.
Windows Developer Quietly Creates Apps to Help People with Disabilities Communicate
Developer produces series of apps that help students with speech disabilities translate their handwriting into spoken language, children with autism learn to write, and adults with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) communicate by speaking words and phrases they choose on a screen.
Nokia Contest Rewards Developers of Apps for Vision-Impaired Users on Windows Phone
Winners and runners-up were announced in Nokia Create’s Do Good Mission contest which rewards developers of apps for vision-impaired users.