Accessibility enables greater innovation for everyone
Today is Global Accessibility Awareness Day, and I am so proud of Microsoft’s commitment to accessibility and increasing focus on inclusive technology. Over 1 billion people live with some form of disability, and most people will experience temporary or permanent disability at some point.
It is inspiring how many advancements in accessibility we’ve made – starting with Windows 11, which is built with accessibility at its core. I am excited about the new features announced at the Ability Summit 2022, such as a more immersive Focus experience, system-wide live captions, and more natural voices for Narrator. I love how Microsoft is working with its device partners and the opportunities we have together to help improve the customer experience.
Accessibility empowers innovation for everyone. Solutions built to be inclusive by design improve the experience, productivity, and engagement of all users. Customers value accessible experiences and companies that embrace inclusion often outperform their competitors.
I’m heartened by the opportunity with our Microsoft partner ecosystem to innovate, build, and deliver accessible technology at scale for customers, together.
Cultivate a culture of changemaking
Cultivating a culture of changemaking can make space for innovation to flourish. The Microsoft #BuildFor2030 Initiative accelerates innovation, changemaking, and collective impact with our partner ecosystem, helping to advance the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, a set of 17 initiatives adopted by member states in 2015 that focus on impacting the world for good by 2030.
Bosch Global Software Technologies, winner at the recent #BuildFor2030 Hackathon digital inclusion and accessibility theme, piloted a virtual reality therapy to help youths with autism become more confident, enabling them to use public transportation independently, often for the first time.
Microsoft partners are driving inclusion in our workplaces and communities
Partners are empowering customers to foster more inclusive workplaces and enabling greater employee engagement with our productivity and collaboration tools. They are innovating creative solutions that empower greater disability inclusion within communities, including supporting the mental health and wellness needs of employees and their families.
- 1uur.nu’s Accessibility Training Workshop, shows employees how to get the best out of assistive tech-tools in Microsoft 365 and Windows to support their work, helping employees discover and use accessibility features.
- Saegus, through their Accessibility-Adoption for All offering, helps companies adopt new and more inclusive work practices. Building specific training programs focused on everyone’s usage, Saegus aims to highlight the accessible features of Microsoft 365 tools to enhance traditional adoption programs.
- The Accessibility and Inclusion: 1-day Workshop delivered by NTT Ltd guides organizations on their journey to deliver a more inclusive environment to meet, chat, and collaborate inclusively within Microsoft Teams.
- BAWA Cane provides real-time, spatial data for blind and visually impaired users to avoid obstacles via alerts. This smart cane uses IoT capabilities that help to reduce head-level and fall accidents to support mobility freedom and independence.
- The Mobility Map Platform by CityMaaS.io provides localized accessibility information around the globe to enable disabled communities to visit businesses and places of interests.
- The Balance – Mental Health Program from Johns Hopkins HealthCare Solutions helps employers, health plans, and providers ensure that participants (and their families) get access to more easily-accessible and personalized mental health care, helping to cultivate a resilient and productive workforce.
- fikaTime is a mental health tool for Microsoft Teams that uses small but regular interactions like random coffee pairings to help break down silos and create a socially-connected team that supports building a culture of inclusion.
Progress on your learning journey and enable disability inclusion
To support disability inclusion, organizations can start by skilling up, developing disability talent, and supporting disability-owned businesses in your tech procurement:
- Cognizant drove an internal accessibility awareness campaign and skilled up 6,400+ employees globally with accessibility fundamentals. They also engaged 1,600+ people with disabilities, including youths, to pursue tech careers as part of the Microsoft Enabler Program in the Asia Pacific region. Learn about the value of upskilling at the recent Ability Summit 2022.
- Dell Technologies, EY, HP, and other companies committed to neurodivergent hiring, together with Microsoft and Disability:IN launched the Neurodiversity Career Connector, a job portal connecting candidates with U.S. employers seeking neurodiverse applicants.
- Customers can discover U.S.-based diverse tech suppliers (including disability-owned businesses) through our marketplace, based on attestations and certifications from Microsoft partners.
Empowering an inclusive and accessible world
I encourage each of you to be an ally and grow your awareness on accessibility; it can lead to impactful mindset shifts in how you build your team and business. I am inspired by those around me and their ability to learn and grow in their understanding and skills and help empower a more inclusive and accessible world.
- Discover Microsoft partners enabling solutions for accessibility and disability inclusion.
- Join the #BuildFor2030 Initiative and build solutions with accessibility top of mind.
- Empower your teams with accessibility fundamentals.
- Get help from Microsoft Enterprise Disability Answer Desk with product questions.