Inclusion in action: Steve uses technology to access printed materials in a crisis


Today, we’re excited to introduce you to Steve. He is a father who is blind and managed a medical crisis involving his young daughter, with OneNote and Office Lens by his side to make printed materials accessible. His is the final story in our Inclusion in action series announced last month, highlighting how accessible technologies enable transformative change.

Here’s his story.

When fourteen-year-old Gabby Sawczyn had a seizure, her parents were shocked and concerned. They needed to take command of the situation and do everything in their power to ensure she was receiving the best care possible.

Her dad, Steve, said it was a very scary time not only for Gabby, but also for himself, his wife, Jen, and his seventeen-year-old son, Marcus.

“We didn’t have time to prepare. We didn’t have time to organize: we just had to go.”

Gabby would spend two weeks in the ICU. Meanwhile, Gabby’s mom stayed with her in the hospital throughout the duration of her illness, while Steve went back and forth between work and the hospital.

“We had lots of information coming at us from many directions. Doctors were providing written materials," said Steve.

As a blind person, Steve needed to access those written materials. Fortunately, as someone who has worked in the accessibility field for over twenty years, Steve knew he could leverage Office 365 accessibility tools.

“Having immediate access to information, regardless of format, really helped me to feel more in control and helped me to feel like I was on top of things.“

Using Office Lens Steve could quickly scan printed information and add it to a dedicated notebook in OneNote that he and his sighted wife both used to organize and share critical information. They had tabs for articles regarding her condition, charts to track medications and they used it to monitor insurance paperwork and medical bills.

Office Lens

Steve Sawczyn used Office Lens and OneNote to have information in print read aloud to him and stored online.

“I couldn’t be happier about what OneNote has enabled me to be able to accomplish, and I think that by making it accessible and by making it usable by all, what Microsoft has done is opened up limitless possibilities to people, regardless of whether they're a student, professional, or anyone else.”

Steve says that the world of accessibility has advanced by leaps and bounds since his childhood, when he often had to wait days for school assignments to be translated into Braille. He fondly recalls one teacher in particular who exposed him to the power of computing.

“My teacher had gone to a conference and had heard about these talking computers and she thought that if I were to get one, this could really be a game changer for me in terms of being able to remain mainstream throughout my school career. So she lobbied and somehow was able to get funding for equipment and it launched me on a path that has kept me interested and engaged in technology ever since.”

Steve using a keyboard

Steve uses a computer with a screen reader and a keyboard.

Steve currently writes a blog about assistive technologies, and advocates for mainstreaming those technologies in the workplace.

As for his daughter, Gabby is back in high school and doing well.

Visit aka.ms/InclusionInAction to discover more stories of people pushing the boundaries of productivity and inclusion with Microsoft technologies.

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