This blog post was written by Rob Sinclair, Microsoft’s Chief Accessibility Officer. Rob is responsible for the company's worldwide strategy to develop software and services that make it easier for people of all ages and abilities to see, hear, and use their computers.
This past weekend was a pretty exciting one in Seattle - watching our Seahawks defeat the Denver Broncos to earn the title of Super Bowl XLVIII Champions. For Seahawks fans, it was a great game and a demonstration of the power of teamwork to achieve a common goal.
For those of us at @Microsoft who work in the field of #Accessibility, Sunday was also a big day because Microsoft aired its first national Super Bowl commercial. That ad highlighted the essence of what we do every day: help build technology that empowers people of all ages and abilities to achieve their full potential. This is what gets us out of bed every morning. It is why we come to work.
The commercial is narrated by Steve Gleason, a former NFL safety for the New Orleans Saints and a symbol of the recovery that has taken place in the Gulf Coast following Hurricane Katrina. The commercial only touches briefly on his story, and I encourage you to view the slightly longer video showing how modern technologies help Steve connect with friends, family, and the world around him using his Microsoft Surface and Tobii Eye-Gaze technology. Steve, his family and his friends at @TeamGleason (www.TeamGleason.org) are working to raise awareness of ALS and help provide people with neuromuscular disease or injuries leading edge technology, equipment and services. It is a great example of the teamwork required to make significant, sustained progress in accessibility.
Microsoft’s new commercial also briefly touches on the stories of other incredible people. More complete vignettes of their stories and others are available online:
- Kelli O’Neill introduces us to her son Braylon who is unstoppable on his prosthetics and full of enthusiasm. This kid’s got game.
- Hal Lasko, the 97-year-old artist who creates beautiful paintings using Microsoft Paint – yes you read that correctly.
- Sarah Churman tells us what is was like to hear her children for the first time and how the restoration of her hearing has changed her life.
For me, these videos highlight the true nature of accessibility. It’s really not about the technology; it’s about the people – and the ideas, humor, stories, artwork, friendship and more they bring to the world. I hope everyone takes a moment to learn more about these stories and share them with others.