Inclusion in action: enabling transformative change with accessible technologies

Leading up to International Day of Persons with Disabilities, which aims to promote the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities, we’re unveiling a new video series celebrating six individuals who are using accessible technologies to help transform their lives. We’re excited to start today with a video about Andrew, an eight-year-old boy with dyslexia who read for the first time this summer with the help of Microsoft Learning Tools. Follow these stories at aka.ms/InclusionInAction.

There are more than 1 billion people on the planet who live with disabilities, and there continue to be barriers to their full participation in school, home and the workplace. In the U.S., youths with disabilities drop out of school at higher rates than the general population, and the unemployment rate for adults with disabilities is twice that of those with no disability. We believe the best outcomes are realized when every person is empowered to contribute their unique perspectives at work, school and home, and accessible technologies play a key role in making that a reality.

At Microsoft, our mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.  We aim to build technologies that make it easier for people with disabilities to create, communicate and work together. We partner with Diversity and Inclusion Officers, Assistive Technology Coordinators, and Special Educators – experts in their fields – to help create more inclusive learning environments and workplaces. Feedback from these partners led us to introduce new Ease of Access settings in Windows 10 like Color Filters, deliver innovative technologies like Microsoft Learning Tools and Microsoft Translator for Education, and improve existing capabilities like Accessibility Checker in Office 365.

These partnerships are part of our inclusive design approach that puts people at the center of product design, helping deliver new insights, identify new challenges and ultimately create more universally beneficial products. Since this became a core part of design at Microsoft, we have seen people with disabilities lead the creation of our own innovative technologies, like Eye Control in Windows 10 and Seeing AI on iOS. Of course, while we are fully focused on ensuring our technologies are usable by every person, ensuring compliance with global accessibility standards is equally important. Visit the Microsoft Trust Center to learn how our products help organizations meet requirements such as US Section 508 and the EN 301 549 standard.

Today and in the weeks ahead, you will have the opportunity to hear the stories of the six amazing individuals below who are pushing the boundaries and achieving great things. We’re on a journey at Microsoft to design, build and launch more accessible products to foster digital inclusion. While we still have plenty of work ahead of us, it’s stories like these that inspire us to keep innovating across our product portfolio. I invite you to join us on this journey as we celebrate inclusion in action. Tune into aka.ms/InclusionInAction each week to meet the following people:

 

 

Andrew, a young boy who read for the first time this summer with Learning Tools

 

 

 

 

Justin, a young man who uses Office 365 to communicate with the world

 

 

 

 

Veronica, a college student who uses built-in accessibility in Office 365 and Windows 10 to create a perfect presentation

 

 

 

Cameron, a university lecturer in Australia, who believes it is an exciting time to be a blind person

 

 

 

 

Jack, a teacher at Louisiana Center for the Blind, who shows students what is possible with Office 365, a screen reader and a keyboard

 

 

 

 

Steve, who navigated his daughter’s medical crisis with Office Lens and OneNote by his side to access printed documents