Inclusive Innovation: Accessibility in Microsoft Products
As part of our continuing partnership with WORKink Alberta, we were ecstatic to welcome John Weigelt, National Technology Officer at Microsoft, to our office last week to host two workshops on the accessibility features built in to Microsoft products. These workshops offered valuable insight into the future of computing and highlighted Microsoft’s ongoing commitment to create technology accessible to everyone.
Describing accessibility as the best kept secret at Microsoft, John gave a hands on demonstration of the many features. He believes the future of technology is inherently inclusive as computing becomes more natural and predictive. As part of this movement, he emphasized there are many forces shaping the advancement of accessible technology:
- 1. Demographics: An aging population means the proportion of persons living with disabilities is increasing.
- 2. Social responsibility: Many organizations have ongoing commitments to diversity and the development of products for all people.
- 3. Advancing technology: Touch screens, voice recognition, natural user interfaces and a host of other innovations are making computing devices inherently more accessible.
- 4. Market demands: Developing technology useable by people with a wide range of preferences and abilities is sound business.
Microsoft says 57% of people can benefit from accessible technology (source). This involves thinking beyond traditional disabilities such as visual or hearing impairments, to temporary conditions like eye fatigue or stress in the extremities, to a general customer preference for easier to use products. In short, Microsoft recognizes that accessibility is synonymous with their commitment to create easy to use and versatile software.
John demonstrated first hand some of the accessibility features included in Windows 7 and Microsoft Office 2010. To learn more about these features visit www.microsoft.com/enable or simply get started by watching this video.
It became obvious through the workshop that literally anyone can benefit from knowing about the accessibility features in Microsoft software and using them in their home or workplace. Exploring accessibility options in Windows 7 or Office 2010 is a great place to start for anyone interested in making their computer or software easier and more comfortable to use.
We would like to extend a big thank you to Microsoft Canada, WORKink Alberta and John for hosting the workshops and also to everyone who attended.