• 25 July,2019

In the last 25 years, much has changed in the world of accessibility.  The increased use of technology has been a significant factor contributing the most changes to the way we work.

The Disability Discrimination Act (1995)  was “An Act to make it unlawful to discriminate against disabled persons in connection with employment, the provision of goods, facilities and services or the disposal or management of premises”.

In the early 2000’s, as this act came into law it focused the providers of IT services on the concept of accessibility and forced many systems to be re-written to allow them to support the needs of those with disabilities.  Back then, the tools available were lacking in the capabilities to support the legislation as they had not been considered during the design of systems.  That has changed!

Over the intervening 25 years, not only has the legislation changed (in most of the UK, the Equality Act 2010, has replaced the Disability Discrimination Act), but the way solutions are implemented has changed too, so that rather than being an afterthought, “Inclusion by Design” is applied as a design principle to ensure that solutions are accessible.

Microsoft’s mission statement is “Empower every person and every organisation on the planet to do more”.  That statement has made Microsoft consider the meaning of the word “every” very hard.

The result is a wide-range of capabilities that are built into the applications we use on a day-to-day basis that enable them to be used by more people:

      • Narrator in Windows 10 is a screen reader available in 27 languages
      • Magnifier enlarges areas of the screen to make the easier to read
      • Inform co-workers of the need for you to receive accessible content
      • Real-time sub-titles in presentations
      • Auto-generate transcript of videos
      • Immersive reader to make it easier to read content
      • Spell and grammar checking
      • Dictation rather than typing
      • Eye tracking
      • Focus assist

These are some of the features that are available to assist in using the tools that Microsoft build, but for other scenarios, there are other features.  Examples include:

      • Building a PowerApp to provide to bespoke solution can be done with inclusivity easily embedded as a design principle through the use of the “Accessibility Checker”
      • Using cognitive services and AI Builder to translate content, analyse content, convert content from images to text to voice

The challenges that existed 25 years ago have changed, and so have the solutions.  Contact us to find out how we can help you to introduce “Inclusive by Design” principles into your organisation, and how you can make the most of the tools that Microsoft has already built.