Moving forward on accessibility: Announcing new structure and leads

Today we’re announcing new steps to strengthen Microsoft’s work to make our products more accessible and better serve people with disabilities.  As we’ve discussed over the past year, accessibility is core to our mission of empowering every person and organization on the planet to achieve more, and we are committed to delivering great technologies that enable people to lead richer lives. Today’s steps build on the initiatives we’ve pursued over the past year to better serve people with disabilities. We are continuing our work to strengthen our engineering capabilities and making new investments to prioritize and build out accessibility features in our products and services. We are also putting key people in new leadership positions to help us advance our goals related to accessibility.

Today I’m pleased to announce additional details about our new organizational structure to guide these efforts, which included the creation of a centralized accessibility team as well as newly appointed technical leaders in the key engineering groups across the company.

Jenny Lay-Flurrie will be joining my team as Microsoft’s new Chief Accessibility Officer.  Jenny has been with Microsoft for 11 years and has been a champion for people with disabilities throughout the company. As Chair of the Disability Employee Resource Group and Senior Director overseeing Trusted Experience, she has sparked a culture change in how Microsoft thinks about employment of people with disabilities and led innovations in how to better support our customers through efforts such as the Disability Answer Desk. She was recognized as a ‘Champion of Change’ by the White House in 2014 for the results she has driven at our company and in the community. Jenny, along with many members of her accomplished team, will be joining the Corporate, External, and Legal Affairs (CELA) organization effective immediately.  We’re also creating new positions so Jenny can grow this team and take new steps to ensure that we are connecting effectively with stakeholders outside Microsoft and with groups throughout our company.  This will help ensure that the voices of our customers who care about accessibility are heard across Microsoft and that our products and services better meet their needs.

Jenny and her team will report to Susan Hauser, who has moved this month to be Corporate Vice President for the new Business and Corporate Responsibility Group (BCR), reporting directly to me.  Susan brings a wealth of experience as a global leader with 26 years of deep external relationships and a strong reputation of being a great advocate for our customers, partners and people across the company. Most recently she led the company’s Enterprise and Partner Group, with global responsibility for one of the most important customer segments at Microsoft.  This experience will be valuable in making sure feedback from our customers is heard, translated across our product groups and incorporated into our product design today and as we look to future technologies that will deliver on our company mission.

Our engineering teams play a central and incredibly important role in our work on accessibility. Indeed, without them, we cannot succeed in meeting the needs of people with disabilities. I am pleased to announce that Rob Sinclair will be leading the accessibility efforts in the Windows and Devices Group. Rob has done tremendous work as our Chief Accessibility Officer over the past five years, and I thank him for his work. Prior to taking on that role, he led the engineering team that created the accessibility platform that is key to our goals for Windows 10 experiences. His experience and expertise will be incredibly valuable as he plays this key leadership role on our technical and engineering work to advance our accessibility goals.  In addition to Rob at Windows, we are tapping engineering leads within our Applications and Services and our Cloud and Enterprise Groups to lead the accessibility work in their respective business groups. These leads, along with accessibility champions across the company, will comprise a new cross-company advisory team led by Jenny that will ensure we deliver on our goals of inclusion, transparency and accountability.

Accessibility is a shared goal across every team at Microsoft. Our new structure, with these great leaders, will better enable us to ensure accessibility is embedded into how we think, design and build technologies to empower every person on the planet.