16 Microsoft Accessibility sessions slated for CSUN 2017

By Megan Lawrence, PhD, Accessibility Technical Evangelist at Microsoft.

The 32nd annual CSUN Assistive Technology Conference is coming up in San Diego, CA, Feb. 27 – March 4. Here at Microsoft, we’re busy preparing for a record 16 sessions.

2016 was a transformational year for Microsoft Accessibility.  We have deep investments in accessibility company-wide, and we’ll be highlighting the depth and breadth of this work at CSUN sessions Wednesday through Friday. All presentations are in the Seaport Ballroom H-Microsoft on the second floor of Seaport Tower in the Manchester Grand Hyatt Hotel.

Throughout the conference, our accessibility engineers, program managers, and world-class researchers will demonstrate our commitment to and progress in accessibility, with presentations addressing:

  • New accessibility benefits in Microsoft products and services
  • Our focus on building and sustaining an inclusive work environment and culture at Microsoft
  • How cutting-edge work in Microsoft research and innovation is paving the way for the future in accessibility

As you plan your conference schedule, we welcome you to join us at our sessions, listed below.


Wednesday, March 1

9 a.m. Windows Narrator: What’s new in Windows 10

This session summarizes new features released in the Windows 10 Anniversary edition, as well as what’s coming in the Windows Creators update in 2017. Get the latest and greatest on Narrator!

10 a.m. What’s New in Microsoft Office 365 and how it helps advance digital inclusion

Learn how the Microsoft team offers accessibility by design in Office 365 and how to leverage Office 365 to create more inclusive environments. Follow our Office 365 accessibility blog series year-round for more updates.

11 a.m. Using Skype and Skype for Business for More Inclusive Meetings

Tips and best practices for making meetings more inclusive with Skype and Skype for Business.

1:20 p.m. Building a Diverse Workforce: Microsoft’s Inclusive Hiring Programs

Learn how Microsoft is building and sustaining an inclusive work environment, and our commitment to hiring people with disabilities.

2:20 p.m. Disability Answer Desk: Quality Technical Support for Customers and Enterprises

Learn how the Disability Answer Desk (DAD) helps individuals with accessibility questions, and how the Enterprise DAD provides support for conformance requirements.

3:20 p.m. Sight Sign: An example of Open Source accessibility at Microsoft

Learn about Sight Sign, a Windows 10 app designed to enable people with ALS. The app is an example of One Microsoft working together to bring open source accessibility to the community.

4:20 p.m. Accessibility in Windows 10: What’s New

This session summarizes new features released in the Windows Anniversary update. In addition, we will announce and demonstrate several new features coming to Narrator in 2017. Hear why we’re building Windows not for all of us, but for each of us.


Thursday, March 2

9 a.m. Multi-device Automated Transcription for Use in the Classroom and Schools

We describe a multi-device tool that supports automated speech transcription. Broadcasts spoken transcripts from one or more devices to hundreds of connected devices.

10 a.m. Accessibility at Microsoft

Learn about Microsoft’s approach to accessibility and how we are using technology to empower everyone. Session will be run by our meet Chief Accessibility Officer Jenny Lay-Flurrie, who will talk about learnings 1 year into the job and our plans for 2017.

11 a.m. New Reading and Writing Tools in Word for Users with Learning Disabilities

This presentation showcases how Microsoft Office 365 applications include tools that support easier creation and consumption of content for users with learning differences such as dyslexia, dysgraphia, ADHD, emerging readers, or a combination of any of the broad range of unique student abilities. We’ll explain Learning Tools in Office Lens and Word plus explore how to combine products for a more accessible experience, such as using a Surface Book and OneNote for students with dysgraphia.

1:20 p.m. Journey to Make Software Usable for All: Learning from Microsoft Office

In this session, we describe the methodology for creating accessible experiences that reach beyond minimum, “check box” compliance, as we seek to create truly usable experiences.

2:20 p.m. Cities Unlocked: Light up the World with Sound

Cities Unlocked is a unique collaborative research programme between Guide Dogs UK and Microsoft, which explores the potential technology has to enable people living with sight loss to get out and about, independently and confidently, in our towns and cities. At this session, learn what’s planned for the project, and meet project innovator, Amos Miller.

3:20 p.m. Accessible Authoring Made Easier in Microsoft Office 365

We’ll showcase how Microsoft Office 365 applications are enhanced with tools that support easier creation of accessible content, which can be accessed and understood by everyone, whilst providing guidance to detect accessibility issues in documents.

3:20 p.m. The Teach Access Project – 2017 Update

This session will update you on the Teach Access Project, which consists of tech companies and universities collaborating to expose all students in relevant majors to the fundamentals of accessible design and development.

4:20 p.m. What’s new in Skype and Skype for Business

Learn how Skype and Skype for Business 2016 have improved in accessibility and what we’ve learned along the way.


Friday, March 3

9 a.m. Excel Tips and Tricks

Walk through creating Excel worksheets, learn about new features and shortcuts, and ask an Excel expert questions. Demonstrations will have a screen reader running.

10 a.m. Leveraging Artificial Intelligence to Augment Visual Awareness

Learn about research we’re doing to describe real world images. Meet Saqib Shaikh, featured in our Seeing AI video, who is presenting with Anirudh Koul.

We’ll wrap up the conference with special sessions not included in the program:

Redesigning OneNote for accessibility 11:00 a.m. – Presented by Ailsa Leen
A deep dive into how the Microsoft OneNote team redesigned their entire app navigation with accessible users in mind, and how this work improved the experience for all users. Plus how to use OneNote to organize your digital work and personal life and collaborate with others.

Accessibility in SharePoint and OneDrive for Business: What’s New 1:20 p.m. – Presented by Aneetha Jayaraman
The new experiences in Microsoft SharePoint Online and the SharePoint mobile app, including the SharePoint home and modern team sites have been designed to be usable by people of all abilities. Learn the accessibility best practices we followed while building web parts such as document libraries that are part of these experiences and how you can take advantage of these.

Pushing the boundaries, together

Above all else, what you’ll hear at CSUN is we need you.  We are only as good as the feedback we receive and we want a lot more of it.  We know that accessibility is the foundation to build inclusive experiences that enable everyone to create accessible content, develop inclusive environments at school, work and home, and to be more connected, independent, and productive. People with disabilities and CSUN attendees can provide us with the critical feedback that we need in order to continue improve the accessibility and usability of our products and services.  So start now, check out the user voice forum and our twitter feeds such as @MSFTEnable on Twitter and get support through our Disability Answer Desks worldwide.

Together, we are pushing the boundaries of what technology can do to empower everyone to achieve more. Visit us at Microsoft Accessibility to learn more, and we’ll see you at CSUN 17!

Please join us Thursday evening, March 2, from 6-8 in the Seaport Ballroom H to meet the Microsoft Accessibility Team.