I have to give credit where it’s due. Microsoft has been at the forefront of the a11y movement in the Nadella era. Great for more companies to come along, and thanks for Jason Ward to point this out below. Full disclosure, this blog owner has a disability as well.
There are one billion people, 15-percent of the world’s population, living with some form of disability. People with disabilities comprise the world’s largest minority group. Throughout the ages, disabilities have presented a barrier to an individual’s full participation in the range of opportunities within a society that are often taken for granted by those of us who are not living with a disability.
The altruistic efforts of individuals and groups, the results of activism, the efforts of policy-makers and the empathy of those driven with self-less care of the needs of others has helped to mainstream a range of accommodations that help level the playing field for people with disabilities. Still, there is much work to be done. In this age of technology, much of what we do in life has a digital parallel.
The need for websites, apps and more to be equally accessible to all is just as important as a ramp for those who use a wheelchair, public accommodations for service animals that assist those with blindness or the guarantee of a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) for students with special needs. Imagine being unable to complete a purchase online, prevented from participating in social media platforms or being unable to engage in any range of online activity. This is the reality for millions of people living with disabilities because many websites and apps are not fully accessible to them.
As one of the world’s technology leaders Microsoft, under the leadership of Satya Nadella, has embraced inclusive design — building technology from conception to production with all users in mind. This has yielded such products as Microsoft’s Adaptive Controller and Eye Tracking technology that allows users to navigate Windows with their eyes and much more. Microsoft’s commitment to ensuring much of its software efforts are accessible to all would not be possible without the help of Deque, a company that is passionate about accessibility and has enabled Microsoft to do much of what it does to make software accessible. I had a candid discussion with Preety Kumar, the CEO of Deque. We talked about Deque’s mission, its partnership with Microsoft and where the companies are going from here.
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