On Friday February 23, 2018, Microsoft were awarded as an Innovative Practice of the Zero Project 2018 for the accessibility features in Office 365. The Zero Project, part of the Essl Foundation based in Austria, works for a world without barriers by researching and publishing innovations from around the world that help persons with disabilities.
Each year The Zero project identifies and shares innovations that improve the daily lives and legal rights of all persons with disabilities by carefully selecting Innovative Practices and Innovative Policies. The Zero Project Awards, presented at their annual conference, supports their outstanding work with global recognition.
The award was handed over to Hector Minto, Senior Technology Evangelist (Accessibility) at Microsoft, by Martin Essl, founder of the Essl Foundation at a ceremony at the United Nations Offices in Vienna, in front of over 500 experts and leaders including politicians and royalty, while being live streamed around the world.
After receiving 372 nominations from 76 countries in June 2017 and making it through two rounds of voting by a global network of up to 4,000 experts and leaders in the disability field, Office 365 was chosen as one of 68 Innovative Practices 2018. Office 365 was awarded for its inclusively designed features which allow persons of all abilities to communicate in a variety of accessible ways, including accessible templates, an accessibility checker, intelligent alternative text and built-in learning tools. These innovations are improved on feedback from a disability community of more than 1,000 persons worldwide that Microsoft actively tracks.
The Zero Project was initiated by the Essl Foundation in 2008 and focuses on the rights of persons with disabilities globally. It is a platform where the most innovative and effective solutions to problems that persons with disabilities face, are shared. Its mission is to support the implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD) and to work for a world without barriers.