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Microsoft Improving Accessibility for Differently-abled

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Microsoft Improving Accessibility for Differently-abled

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February 26, 2016
By Michelle Amodio
TMCnet Contributor

Accessibility is one of those things that all companies should boast about when it comes to products and services, and for Microsoft (News - Alert), this commitment is very much a priority. The company recently outlined a long list of pledges to make its products more accessible to those who are differently-abled.


Exactly what is contained in this plan? For one, Microsoft wants to ensure that everyone has access to the Windows 10 Start menu, lock screen and other features like Cortana, Store, Music, Videos, just to name a few. One big change includes the expansion of Office 365 to include easier authoring access from multiple devices and Voice Over support for Office for Mac.

“Our initial task was to establish guiding principles and we landed on three. The first principle is transparency, specifically, committing to share our plans to ensure our products are accessible,” the company wrote in a recent blog post.

There are over 4,000 assistive technological devices around at this time. Many of these are designed at pinpointing a certain task in one’s life that may be difficult, and making it as easy as possible. For example, with the advent of the tablet and e-readers, one can buy a book digitally and then have the book read to them or turn digital pages. There are typing assistant types of programs that finish typing words for the user, thereby cutting down on the number of keystrokes one has to make. For someone who struggles physically to type long documents, these features make living in the digital era easier.

Microsoft’s mission to be accessible to those with different abilities is a big step for communities all over.

“Over the last few months, we have been going through feedback from our listening channels like the Disability Answer Desk and talking to some of our great partners. It’s clear that we need to deliver an experience that enables not just access, but also productivity,” the post said.

The current generation of software and devices has made it easier for differently-abled computer users to travel the digital world, interact with others, and complete work tasks without hitting the roadblocks that older technologies imposed.

“We’re committed to delivering great technologies that empower every person and organization on the planet to achieve more, and that includes building out accessibility features in our existing products and services,” Microsoft said.

These days, using a computer and all of its tools as an integral part of the business world is not just for the able-bodied, but for everyone.

 

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