This year’s theme is Inclusion Matters: Access and Empowerment for People with Disabilities – which resonates strongly with our ambition at Microsoft.
Our mission is to empower every person and organisation on the planet to achieve more. Our CEO, Satya Nadella specifically called out inclusion as one of the key attributes of the growth mindset needed to deliver on this mission.
“We will better serve everyone on the planet by representing everyone on the planet.” Satya Nadella, 25 June 2015.
According the ABS, nearly 20% of Australians of all ages have some form of disability. 2.2 million Australians of working age (15 – 64 years) have a disability.
We believe that people are defined by what they can do, and when empowered by technology, all people, including those with disabilities, can do amazing things.
We’re particularly excited in Australia about the potential for change through the Australian Government’s National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).
Within the next four years, the NDIS will support nearly half a million Australians with a disability. This promises to deliver greater independence, choice and access to innovation for NDIS recipients, and technology will play a critical role in this.
By the National Disability Insurance Agency’s (NDIA) own estimation, by 2019 the NDIS will create a $1 billion per annum market for assistive technology in Australia.
That is why we’re working closely with the NDIA on how Microsoft’s innovation in accessibility and assistive technology can support the rollout of this important social reform.
This is a big task that will require us to work with many of our important partners in Australia.
To demonstrate that, our partners were front and centre of our participation at the NDIS New World Conference in Brisbane in late October.
Microsoft partners including Australian developed screen reader NVDA by NV Access; Infoxchange, ConnectingUp and Jintronix all appeared and did live presentations on our stand over the three days of the conference.
One of the demonstrations was Vision Australia’s Document Accessibility Toolbar (DAT) for Microsoft Word that helps people to create accessible documents (Microsoft Office 2010 and above). Developed with support from the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) - the DAT is being launched today as a free beta.
Once downloaded, the DAT sits as a dedicated ribbon tab in Microsoft Word. As someone creates a document, they can work through each of the functions within the ribbon to ensure accessibility of the final document. Once the document is completed, the author can then validate its accessibility in real time.
We’re pleased to support this launch and encourage people and organisations to download the DAT and provide feedback to Vision Australia.
Our commitment to full inclusion and accessibility is something that we are working on tirelessly across the company and with our partner community.
Inclusion matters, and today we’re proud to honor this day.