Accessibility has become a key aspect of technology for Microsoft as it works to make innovation available to everyone. We first saw this back in September 2018 when Microsoft released the Xbox Adaptive Controller, a video game controller designed for Windows PCs and the Xbox One for gamers with limited mobility to help make user input for video games more accessible.
While this was the most noticeable and talked about innovation, it wasn’t the only one that the company released to make technology more accessible and helpful.
Microsoft says that “Millions of people around the world are excluded, in public spaces, at work, and in schools, because of their disability. Technology, when used properly, changes that. It levels the playing field – that’s what the adaptive controller does. It empowers people with motor-related disabilities can play their favourite games. Another Xbox innovation which makes gaming more accessible is Co-Pilot, a solution which allows two players to control one controller as well as the adaptive controller.”
The company has worked on addressing visual, hearing and speech disabilities with solutions such as Narrator, Colour filters and Colour filters, Mono Audio options, Speech interaction with Windows, and eye tracking make using Windows easier for people faced with various disabilities.
In Office, dictation, which allows you to type using your voice on Word, Touch input which allows for touchscreen inputting of information and ReadAloud, a speech to text app, are also helping to create accessibility.
“We wanted to create more awareness of the advances we have made in computing, gaming and in ergonomic design as well as how they make our customers lives easier. We firmly believe that empowering every individual and organisation on the planet to achieve more is more than just a mission statement; it defines how we design our products and how we approach innovation,” says Vithesh Reddy, Consumer and Device Sales Director at Microsoft South Africa.
“Our productivity tools across Office and Windows allow for improved collaboration through file sharing, smarter research, task management, and synchronisation as well as increased comfort thanks to ergonomic design. We have upgraded safety through increased encryption and better levels of security on email and internet browsing. Finally, our inclusive design approach has helped us ensure that our products are more accessible, making gaming, Office and Windows functionality more accessible to many more people around the world,” says Vithesh Reddy.
Improved productivity for Office and Windows:
Some of the key advances in productivity include:
- QuickStarter: A research tool which helps you build PowerPoint presentations in minutes.
- Math Assist: A OneNote feature that allows you to solve complex mathematics equations quickly, and shows you step-by-step instructions that help you learn how – perfect for parents helping their kids with homework.
- Researcher: Helps you find and cite reliable sources for your research paper from within Word in just a few steps.
- Real-Time Co-Authoring: Allows you to collaborate online and in real time on Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents, leading to increased productivity in the workplace.
- OneDrive Sharing: A productivity tool that allows you to store files, share them, give permission to view or edit them and work together on files at the same time.
- Timeline for Windows: Shows a history of activities you’ve performed over the last few weeks and synchronises your activities across your PCs allowing you to easily pick up a task where you left off.
Says Vithesh Reddy: “Microsoft will continue to look for new ways to improve our customer’s lives through innovation. We are determined to continuously develop inclusive technology that protects our customers’ sensitive information and empowers as many people as possible.”