When we think about access to technology, you have to think about it holistically. It’s not just access to a device, it’s really access for all types of students…particularly students with learning difficulties or physical disabilities…to make sure they have equal access to learning with technology.
Microsoft is very committed and serious about accessibility within our software. We build accessibility options into our products to help enable everyone to personalize their PC to make it safer and easier to see, hear and use. Accessibility options are particularly useful for people with vision or hearing loss, mobile and dexterity impairments, or language and learning impairments.
We’ve released an updated accessibility guide for educators. The guide provides really good insight for schools on the things they need to think about, questions they should be asking, Microsoft technology available to help with students with disabilities, and how to successful and more simply bring it into the classroom. The guide provides an overview of accessibility features in Windows 7, Office 2007 and Internet Explorer.
Windows 7 has very strong voice navigation and voice recognition, so for blind students it’s actually very good. In addition to being compatible with a wide variety of assistive technology products, there’s also an On-Screen Magnifier, On-Screen Keyboard, and Narrator in Windows 7. For those who want to listen to the details versus reading them, here is a recording with Kelly Ford, who is blind and involved in product management for Windows 7.
Tutorials for these features and other products can be found here. We are also making accessibility investments in Office 2010, SharePoint 2010 and Office Web Apps that will be available in the coming months.