Opening new doors with technology for people with disabilities

With 2016’s United Nations International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD) fresh in our minds, we’re reflecting on how we can build a more inclusive society for the almost 15% of the world’s population living with a disability.

At Microsoft, we believe technology should empower people to achieve more. While we’ve got more work to do, we’ve made progress over the last year towards making Microsoft’s products more accessible. You can read more about this here.

Technologies designed with accessibility in mind can drive benefits for everyone. They can boost business productivity, unlock new potential, and stimulate outside-the-box, creative thinking. The right policy frameworks can play an important role in helping universal design approaches become mainstream.

The European Commission’s European Accessibility Act, first proposed this time last year, is a positive step towards creating a more inclusive Digital Single Market to benefit every European. However, it’s important that efforts to make technology more accessible aren’t inadvertently stalled. When legislators try to solve complex challenges with solutions based on technologies which could soon be obsolete, we risk leaving people with disabilities behind. We also risk shutting down new avenues of innovation before their potential has been fully explored.

When legislating for accessible technology, policymakers should take the time to consider what it is that they are trying to achieve rather than how to achieve it. In this way, the door remains open for exploring new ways of tackling age-old problems, and designing digital products and services that can be beneficial to all.

In case you are in doubt about the power of technology, take a look at the video clip below, which shows how digital devices can open up a whole new world of possibility and allow every individual to play their part in society. Let’s work together to make the world accessible to everybody!