Promoting An Accessibility Ecosystem of Choice and Opportunity

Posted by Laura Ruby 
Director, Accessibility Policy & Standards

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) held a field hearing last Friday in Washington, D.C, on broadband access for people with disabilities. The event, part of the agency’s efforts to develop a National Broadband Plan, included a technology exhibit of some of the options and programs available to improve accessibility.

Microsoft had an opportunity to demonstrate some of the enhancements in Windows 7 that make it easier for people to see, hear, and use a computer. These include the new lens mode and full-screen mode in Windows Magnifier; our resizable on-screen keyboard with text prediction, hover and scan modes; and new speech recognition and multi-touch technologies. We also showed how Microsoft’s Silverlight plug-in enables closed-caption support of HD streaming media and rich Internet applications.

Microsoft has long been committed to developing innovative accessibility solutions and to integrating accessibility into broader product planning, research and development, and testing. We’re also committed to improving the interoperability of our software with the hundreds of assistive technology products that third-party developers have created to work with Windows. These specialized hardware and software products provide additional accessibility features for those with significant vision, hearing, dexterity, language, or learning needs.

Microsoft works through organizations such as the Accessibility Interoperability Alliance and the Assistive Technology Industry Association to foster broad availability of solutions for people with disabilities, and to help drive down the cost and complexity of building accessible mainstream products.

We commend the FCC for focusing on the technology needs of people with disabilities. Its forums provide a great venue for dialogue among consumers, academics, industry and state and federal government agencies. We hope the FCC’s National Broadband Plan will promote robust choice and opportunity for people with disabilities.

Comments (4)

  1. Anonymous says:

    Microsoft's commitment to accessibility is an example to other companies who should be doing more to address these issues. But I'm not listing those companies here. Yet. ;-))

  2. Anonymous says:

    Glad you mentioned it.    One thing I still don't understand why Netflix still cannot do it since they said technology is not ready till next year or two. They said they use Silverlight technology.    Care to explain?

  3. Anonymous says:

    Microsoft can be proud of what it's done technologically to advance accessibility; it's been a steady, consistent, committed partner.  But I appreciate even more how savvy Microsoft has been about accessibility barriers on the demand side, with its efforts to promote awareness among end users, employers, and its own customers in large enterprises and the public sector.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Laura, Great that you've started this blog.  I really enjoyed checking out Microsoft's exhibit table last Friday.  We would welcome input from Microsoft about specific recommendations that the NBP should contain to promote robust choice and opportunities for people with disabilities.

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