Windows 7 and Office 2010 Make Accessibility More AffordableExcerpted from the Microsoft news release, Accessibility Options in Windows 7 and Office 2010 Make It Easier for Everyone to See, Hear and Use Computers.
Jamie Mayo, a senior rehabilitation engineer in the University of Michigan Rehabilitation Engineering Program (and a Microsoft Accessibility Resource Center representative), sees the value of Windows and Office accessibility every day in her work with people who experience many different types of disabilities and impairments.
Mayo often works with people who have been suddenly disabled as the result of an accident or traumatic injury. They need help coping with their new situation and understanding what solutions can enable them to keep working and live independently. Mayo and her colleagues often use Windows 7 as a diagnostic tool, letting patients test-drive the built-in Windows accessibility options to help determine what kind of technology assistance they need.
"When patients with serious vision impairments try out Narrator (the text-to-speech program in Windows) or people with severe dexterity issues use Speech Recognition in Windows 7 for the first time, the results are often dramatic," Mayo says. "It not only gives them the chance to find out whether they need a screen reader or to test their comfort level using voice commands to control a computer, it also shows them a new world of possibilities."
Many of Mayo's patients are surprised to discover the array of sophisticated accessibility tools that come as an integral part of Windows 7 and Office 2010. A fair number of patients find that those two software products provide all of the accessibility tools they need to mitigate the effects of their impairments, saving them the trouble and expense of additional software or devices. When that happens, Mayo says, it can be a godsend.
"Most medical insurance plans don't cover the cost of assistive technology devices and programs," Mayo says. "The built-in accessibility features in Windows 7 and Office 2010 sometimes make the difference between people getting the help they need or getting no help at all."