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Microsoft launches new five-year plan to address accessibility.

Microsoft has announced a new technology-led five-year plan to “create and open doors to bigger opportunities for persons with disabilities” almost a year after they released their Accessibility Evolution Model in July 2020. This five-year plan has three main objectives:

  1.  Spurring the development of more accessible technology across the industry and the economy;
  2.  Using technology to create opportunities for more people with disabilities to enter the workforce;
  3.  Building a workplace that is more inclusive for people with disabilities.

According to Microsoft’s president, Brad Smith, all of the objectives are interrelated. He said in the post published on the Official Microsoft Blog; “We can’t create the next generation of accessible technology unless we attract more people with disabilities to play a bigger role in helping to develop it. And we need to create an inclusive workplace that nurtures this talent”.

On the technology side, Microsoft will start by ensuring that their own products are accessible by design, to enable them to help all persons with disabilities to be more productive. They will go on to expand their reach with new tools and data resources to support software development across the industry, as well as looking into increasing access and affordability of their products.

Microsoft recognises that accessible technology by itself will be insufficient to create more opportunities for persons with disabilities, and that the development of accessible technology requires input from individuals with disabilities. Therefore, they will be looking into increasing educational opportunities for persons with disabilities. Microsoft will also consider new ways to connect these skilled and educated individuals with disabilities with job opportunities.

Workforce development needs to be coupled with an initiative to create a more inclusive culture and welcoming environment for people with disabilities. This includes creating inclusive hiring programs to attract employees with disabilities, accessible and inclusive tools and physical workspaces, encouraging continuous feedback from employees, and empowering customers and partners on their accessibility journey.

Microsoft’s accessibility team’s motto is to do “nothing about us, without us”, which motivates the team to work to create a more inclusive future for all. Be sure to follow their online blog to stay updated on their progress.

For the link to the full blog post, please click here:

For more information on Microsoft’s Accessibility Evolution Model, please click on the link:

Alternatively, if you need further information on how to make facilities or services more accessible and inclusive, please do not hesitate to contact one of our team on (01) 415 12 85 or e-mail [email protected].