Accessibility

Microsoft is committed to ensuring that our products and services are designed for everyone, including the approximately 1.2 billion people with disabilities in the world. Accessibility makes it easier for people to see, hear, and use technology, and to personalize technology to meet their own needs and preferences.

We endeavor to integrate accessibility into every stage of product development, including planning, design, research, development, and testing. Our commitment is guided by three main principles:

  • Transparency: We are open with our plans to ensure our products are accessible. The Microsoft Accessibility website provides information about the accessibility of Microsoft products. Microsoft communicates openly about the accessibility of our products and engages with stakeholders to resolve accessibility issues. Microsoft self-reports how our products and services meet common accessibility requirements.
  • Inclusivity: We want everyone to be empowered—not only through our products, services, and technology, but within our culture at Microsoft. Our approach to inclusive design enables us to partner with individuals who have a range of abilities, and we share our learnings broadly so that other companies can benefit from them as well. Our Inclusive Design website offers resources such as videos, case studies, and our inclusive design toolkit.
  • Accountability: We prioritize inclusive design and accessibility in the development of all our products and services by following established, company-wide standards. The Microsoft Accessibility Standards are company-wide guidelines that drive consideration for accessibility into every stage of production, including design, development, evaluation, and release of products and services.

The Microsoft Accessibility Standards support leading global accessibility standards, including:

Microsoft also works with governments and organizations around the world to deliver the benefits of digital technology to people with disabilities. For example, Microsoft is a signatory to the Global Initiative for Inclusive Information and Communications Technology (G3ict) Charter, which encourages governments to increase digital inclusion for citizens by incorporating accessibility criteria into their procurement policies.

EN 301 549

Accessibility Requirements Suitable for Public Procurement of ICT Products and Services (EN 301 549) is a set of standards for information and communications technologies (ICT) products and services, including websites, software, and digital devices. EN 301 549 was published in 2014 by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) in response to a request from the European Commission and is intended for use in procurement by government and public sector organizations. EN 301 549 incorporates the WCAG 2.0 standards for web accessibility in clause 9.2.

EN 301 549 lists a series of Functional Performance Statements for making ICT accessible for:

  • Usage without vision
  • Usage with limited vision
  • Usage without perception of color
  • Usage without hearing
  • Usage with limited hearing
  • Usage without vocal capability
  • Usage with limited manipulation or strength
  • Usage with limited reach
  • Minimize photosensitive seizure triggers
  • Usage with limited cognition

Because the Microsoft Cloud comprises many services, individual conformance reports are provided for specific components and capabilities.

Microsoft services in scope for EN 301 549

  • Azure
  • Azure Government
  • Dynamics 365
  • Dynamics 365 U.S. Government
  • Office 365
  • Office 365 U.S. Government
  • Office 365 U.S. Government Defense
  • Visual Studio Team Services
  • Windows 10 Anniversary Update
  • Windows Server 2016

See a full list of EN 301 549 reports for Microsoft products

Learn more

U.S. Section 508

In 1998, Congress amended the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 to include Section 508, which requires US federal government agencies to “give disabled employees and members of the public access to electronic information and technology that is comparable to access available to others.” Agencies must also consider accessibility when they purchase or use information technology.

A Voluntary Product Accessibility Template, or VPAT, is a standardized form developed by the Information Technology Industry Council to document whether a product meets key Section 508 regulations. Federal procurement officers and other buyers can use completed templates to help evaluate products they’re considering.

Microsoft is committed to building products and solutions that enable people of all ages and abilities to interact with platform tools and services. Microsoft demonstrates this commitment by offering detailed VPATs for many of its cloud services, describing the accessibility features of those services. Because the Microsoft Cloud comprises many services, individual VPATs are provided for specific components and capabilities.

Microsoft services in scope

  • Azure
  • Azure Government
  • Dynamics 365 detailed list
  • Dynamics 365 U.S. Government detailed list
  • Intune
  • Office 365
  • Office 365 U.S. Government
  • Office 365 U.S. Government Defense

Learn more

WCAG 2.0 (ISO/IEC 40500)

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (WCAG 2.0) provide a framework for developing web content that improves accessibility for people with disabilities, as well as users of devices with limited graphical abilities. WCAG 2.0 was published in 2008 by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), an international organization dedicated to creating web standards. In 2012, WCAG 2.0 was also published by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) as ISO/IEC 40500:2012.

WCAG 2.0 is organized around four principles, which in turn have 12 guidelines. Each guideline has testable success criteria, which are scored at three conformance levels. The four principles are:

  • Perceivable: Information and user interface components must be presentable to users in ways they can perceive.
  • Operable: User interface components and navigation must be operable.
  • Understandable: Information and the operation of the user interface must be understandable.
  • Robust: Content must be robust enough that it can be interpreted reliably by a wide variety of user agents, including assistive technologies.

Conformance requirements for each guideline is measured in three levels: A, AA, and AAA.

Microsoft publishes WCAG 2.0 AA reports that reflect the complete product or service. We generally do not create a report for individual features or components. In some cases, we may release a new component for an existing product, or a new version of an existing component, which users may choose to install separately, and we may publish a WCAG 2.0 AA report for that component.

Microsoft services in scope for WCAG 2.0

  • Azure
  • Azure Government
  • Dynamics 365
  • Dynamics 365 U.S. Government
  • Office 365
  • Office 365 U.S. Government
  • Office 365 U.S. Government Defense
  • Visual Studio Team Services
  • Windows 10
  • Windows Server 2016

See a full list of WCAG 2.0 AA reports for Microsoft products

Learn more

Disability Answer Desk

Contact the enterprise Disability Answer Desk, which provides dedicated support to our enterprise customers who have questions about accessibility within Microsoft’s products and services or regarding conformance reports.

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