The World Bank estimates that roughly one billion people worldwide experience some form of disability, with one-fifth of the global population facing significant disabilities. Behind every disability is a person with the potential to live a meaningful and impactful life, and Microsoft and our partners are doing some amazing work to help enable this potential.
In recognition of Disability Employment Awareness Month this October, here’s a look at how our partners and Microsoft are empowering every person on the planet to achieve more.
Using technology for global good
At Microsoft Inspire, we heard the powerful story of Lianna, a young girl suffering from retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), a rare eye disease that occurs in babies born prematurely. In the US, this aggressive form of blindness is almost 100 percent treatable, but Lianna’s home in Armenia had limited access to the specialized care she needed.
Through the power of technological innovation and a spirit to help Lianna grow up to her full potential, Microsoft partner SADA Systems worked closely with Children’s Hospital LA and the Armenian EyeCare Project to implement a cutting-edge telemedicine solution. Using Polycom devices and Microsoft Skype for Business, surgeons from Lianna’s hospital were able to stream high fidelity images from the operating room and collaborate with experts more than 7,000 miles away.
Enabling individuals through technology
In his recent interview with Good Housekeeping, Satya Nadella shared his family’s unique perspective on the importance of enabling individuals with disabilities—like his own son—through more inclusive and innovative technologies. At Microsoft, we aim to maximize the contributions of every individual, infusing diverse thought into the way we innovate and the way we build our own teams. We firmly believe that a diverse, inclusive workforce drives better products and solutions for our customers and better experiences for our employees, and for employees everywhere.
One project that‘s particularly impactful is the story of Project Emma. Inspired by her friendship with fellow designer Emma Lawton and driven by her passion to create technology for good, Microsoft researcher Haiyang Zhang invented a prototype watch that can help control hand tremors from Parkinson’s disease. There is currently no cure for this disease, which affects more than 10 million people worldwide. But Haiyan built a watch with tiny vibrating motors that counteracts the tremors, allowing Emma to write again.
Inclusion drives innovation
The theme for National Disability Employment Awareness Month this year is “Inclusion Drives Innovation.” This message reflects the important role that different perspectives play in driving innovation and workforce success.
Stories like Lianna’s and Emma’s emphasize the opportunities in technology and business to make life better for everyone, regardless of ability. That mindset is based on creating inclusive cultures and thinking creatively about how technological innovation can be used for good.
Microsoft strives to create a more diverse business environment by welcoming persons with disabilities through inclusive hiring programs, supported employment programs, and partnerships with national and global organizations. We believe the diversity of our collective workforce is the fuel that powers the engines of innovation and growth.
What stories of inclusion and innovation have shaped your business? Share your experiences with the Microsoft Partner Community here.