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Advancing inclusivity and accessibility

By Greg Myers, Vice President, Federal Government, Microsoft Corporation on December 7, 2017

Filed under Microsoft in Government

Empathy is something our CEO Satya Nadella writes about in his recently released book Hit Refresh.  And it’s one of the principles that guides our mission to empower every person and organization on the planet to achieve more. As part of carrying out that mission, we’re dedicated to having a diverse culture and making our technology accessible to all.

And, it is at this time of year, that we remember those who have given so much in service to us all, especially our veterans and disabled veterans. Therefore, we owe it to them to highlight how hitting refresh with modernization of IT can be inclusive of everyone.

By some estimates there are more than 1 billion people in the world who have a disability and closer to home we have over 453,000 unemployed veterans. We understand that as your government agency digitally transforms, you want to ensure that your technology and communications are accessible to all. We’re committed to helping you do just that.

At Microsoft, we have progressively built accessibility into our technologies from the ground up—not as a bolt-on. Your organization can accomplish all the major tenets of digital transformation like mobility, security, compliance, cost savings, and productivity, with the assurance that we are focused on delivering accessibility in our software and services, including Microsoft 365 and Office 365.   

If you wish to start your holiday season feeling good, you may want to watch how people’s lives are being transformed using accessible technologies to achieve more.

We work with industry experts and are continually innovating to make our technology ever more universally beneficial. For example, while telework may be a convenience for many employees, we have found it is sometimes the linchpin to allow disabled veterans to get back into the workforce. Learn about some of our most recent accessibility advances in this blog and this video.

Because transformation of accessibility and helping everyone achieve more are so important to us, we’re incredibly honored and humbled by the recent recognition we’ve received for our inclusive hiring and inclusive design.

We were recognized with the Disability Rights Washington, Business Leader Award 2017, a perfect score on the Disability Equality Index (DEI), and made the DEI’s Best Places to Work list. You can read about DEI, which is a neutral benchmarking tool to assess companies’ disability inclusion, in this USA Today article. In the article, our Chief Accessibility Officer Jenny Lay-Flurrie says that Microsoft helped her realize that her hearing disability is a strength that makes the company better.

We were also recognized with the US Business Leadership Network 2017 Annual Leadership Award for “Marketplace Innovator of the Year” for developing products that are designed to be used for people of all abilities. And Susan Hauser, our corporate vice president, Business and Corporate Responsibility at Microsoft, was recognized by the Cerebral Palsy Foundation for her commitment to accessibility and inclusion. Plus, in October of 2016, we received the Washington State 2016 Governor’s Employer of the Year Award.

It’s this kind of recognition that inspires us in our continued journey with government agencies to help them achieve their inclusion goals. We also realize that the honors were only possible due to the incredible partnership we have found within the government.

Your agency can take advantage of our cloud-based services to help you comply with requirements for making government IT and communications accessible to people with disabilities while increasing productivity, improving workplace satisfaction and retention, and attracting new employees. For example:

  • Microsoft 365, which includes Office 365, Windows 10 and Enterprise Mobility + Security, is helping agencies comply with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act and Section 255 of the Telecommunications Act.
  • Microsoft leverages the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Trusted Tester process with certified accessibility testing which can help reduce your agencies testing requirements.
  • Our Office Accessibility Center offers support resources for people with disabilities, including training, templates, updates, technology and tools for creating accessible content, including:
    • The Disability Answer Desk, where customers with disabilities can receive support with product issues, accessibility questions, and the use of assistive technology for Microsoft Office and Windows.
    • The Enterprise Disability Answer Desk for organizations, which can help enterprise customers better understand product conformance with U.S. regulations as well as receive answers to specific questions about accessibility and assistive technology.
  • Microsoft also publishes conformance reports on how our products meet key information and communications technology (ICT) accessibility requirements for S. Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0) and EN 301 549 procurement requirements.

You can find out how to make your official communications accessible to comply with the updated Section 508 standards in this on-demand webinar.

And for more on Microsoft’s commitment to accessibility, check out:

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