Over the years, Microsoft has worked towards creating technology that is accessible to an increasingly wide range of users, including people with certain disabilities. The company’s efforts have recently been recognised by the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB).
Microsoft is set to receive the prestigious Helen Keller achievement award from the AFB on April 8 this year. The award is rewarded to elite organisations and individuals whose works have created further possibilities for those who are visually impaired or fully blind. Other winners of the prestigious award include prominent activist Haben Girma and technology giant Google.
The AFB award is given out in honour of the late Helen Keller, the first ever deaf and blind person to acquire a Bachelor of Arts degree. She was an activist and ambassador of AFB whose achievements serve as an encouraging example for all people with different levels of abilities. Keller also worked as a lecturer and author, touching the lives of many through her work.
As one of the world’s most recognised brands, Microsoft’s products such as Office, Windows, and the cloud have touched many lives around the world. Staying true to its corporate mission, the technology giant plays an important role in developing new software, services, and devices to help organisations and individuals reach new heights in their daily work and personal lives.
As Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, is often quoted saying, Microsoft embraces the role of creating and offering technology to users who in turn use the tools to create additional services that benefit even more people. In 2017, this vision was clearly demonstrated by a Microsoft hackathon team that helped Steve Gleason, a former American football legend, to regain his mobility following his diagnosis of Lou Gehrig disease. As this disease leads to immobilisation, the Microsoft team was inspired to perform modifications to Gleason’s wheelchair, which resulted in him being able to navigate around independently.
Furthermore, the project also involved a Windows 10 update that provides users with the option of controlling the OS and software by just using their eyes. This update is one of the main reasons why Microsoft claimed the Helen Keller award from the AFB.
Apart from the Eye Control update, another successful development by Microsoft is known as the Seeing AI app, which was created by a blind developer at Microsoft – Saquib Shaikh. This service facilitates the “perceiving” of the world around the user by applying AI and Microsoft’s Cognitive Services to provide useful narrations based on various facial expressions, actions, and texts.
The AFB was also impressed by the efforts of Microsoft to enhance accessibility to its entertainment services, such as the Xbox. A good example includes how the company increased accessibility to all gamers with varying abilities by incorporating Copilot and the Accessibility API into the Xbox One.
Microsoft has made solid progress over the years in realising the company’s goals of making technology more inclusive. Contact WM Reply to receive new ideas on how the technology giant’s new brainchild could provide the ideal tools for your organisation to achieve a whole new level of success.