Posted by Laura RubyDirector, Accessibility Policy & Standards Yesterday the White House announced that the government will renew its commitment to Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, which requires access to the federal government's electronic and information technology for people with disabilities. The announcement was part of the celebration of the 20th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which gives 43 million Americans with disabilities the promise of equal access to all the benefits and advantages of society. Section 508 applies to all Federal agencies when they develop, procure, maintain or use electronic and information technology. Today’s announcement focused on ensuring better agency accountability and more responsibility for implementing Section 508 requirements, so that the benefits of information technology are made available to those with disabilities and to older people who often experience vision, hearing or dexterity impairments as they age. Accessible technology enables people with disabilities to access services and pursue education and employment in today’s competitive and connected digital workplace. It also helps business leaders and governments empower and retain top employees and aging workers. The United States has been a leader on accessibility, and many other countries look to Section 508 as a model. The law helps ensure a more vibrant and competitive technology industry, as the government’s commitment to adopt the most accessible technology products creates a powerful incentive for investment in accessibility improvements. To continue sending the right signals to industry, however, the government must set clear goals and guidelines, without favoring one technology or business framework over another. Also, agency staff who carry out the policy need sufficient training in how to use, evaluate and maintain accessible technology.
Posted by Craig MundieChief Research and Strategy Officer
The United States this week took one more step forward in its plans to host the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) year in 2011. Microsoft joined with Chevron, Federal Express, JP Morgan Chase, Procter & Gamble, Underwriters Labs, and Walmart as founding members of the 2011 private sector host committee. I am honored to chair the APEC 2011 Host Committee. [APEC membership is drawn from 21 countries on the Pacific Rim from Asia, Latin America and North America.]
Hosting APEC in 2011 is a key opportunity for the United States to reassert its leadership on broad economic issues affecting not only business but also health, education and security in Asia. Secretary Clinton framed this opportunity perfectly in her speech in Hawaii earlier this year, when she said that “America’s future is linked to the future of the Asia‐Pacific region; and the future of this region depends on America.” We could not agree more.
The 21 APEC economies represent 2.5 billion consumers and 60% of the world’s global income. For the United States, some 60% of our exports are destined for APEC economies. Our partnerships in Asia are essential to our economic growth.
As the global economy begins to recover, we share with our partners in Asia the common objectives of creating jobs and economic opportunity to raise living standards. This is a crucial moment for U.S. leadership and the public-private partnership that we enjoy in America. For all of the companies involved, and for our country, hosting APEC 2011 is a pivotal event in U.S. engagement in this important region. We are committed to building and working in a strong partnership with the Administration and Congress to ensure successful outcomes for both government and the private sector throughout the year. With the Administration and Congress, including the important APEC Caucus in the House, we have put in place a three-way partnership for a successful APEC year in 2011.
Joining us at the launch were U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus and Representative Kevin Brady, a co-chair of the House Caucus on APEC, and Bob Hormats, Under Secretary of State for Agricultural, Economic and Business Affairs (insert others). All are outspoken leaders who are working to strengthen U.S. economic relations with our partners in the Asia Pacific.
Posted by Caroline CurtinPolicy Counsel, U.S. Government Affairs
Yesterday, the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety and Insurance, held a hearing on “Protecting Youths in an Online World.” On behalf of Microsoft, Julie Inman-Grant and I attended the hearing to support Microsoft’s continued commitment to finding ways to keep families safer online. Among other topics, there was an increased focus on the risks to the teen audience, and what the industry and others can do to increase awareness of risks and tools for this demographic and their parents.
Today, the Windows Live Family Safety team blogged about what’s new with Family Safety, and it was exciting to read about how Family Safety is increasing its effort to not only keep younger children safer online, but teens as well. In the post, Microsoft Senior Product Manager, Phil Sohn, blogs about how he uses Family Safety to facilitate safer social networking for his own teenagers. Here’s part of what Phil has to say in the post:
Posted by Owen LinderholmDirector, Microsoft on the Issues
This week at the Worldwide Partner Conference, Microsoft executives are speaking with our more than 640,000 local partners around the world. Back in October, Pamela Passman blogged about the economic impact of Microsoft’s partner ecosystem, who together, generated more than $500 billion in revenues in 2009. One of our partners, Ramona Pierson, founder of SynapticMash, also shared her story about finding success in the ecosystem.
As economic recovery remains a key priority for our nation, our partners are doing their part to fuel innovation and jobs in towns and villages, cities and states and countries and continents around the globe. For more info, check out Fred Humphries, on Politico: Collaboration brings opportunity and take a look at the Washington Post’s Cecilia Kang’s interview with Steve Ballmer. You can also check out our virtual press kit for the event on the Microsoft News Center.
Posted by Linda ZecherCorporate Vice President, Worldwide Public Sector
This morning at Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference in Washington, DC, we had the privilege of welcoming former President Bill Clinton, who spoke about the need for sustainable systems and how IT can be a key catalyst in building a virtuous cycle of sustained social and economic development. He pointed out how the IT revolution has led the dramatic improvements in productivity, access to information, and prosperity for those at the top of the pyramid, but noted that for more than 5 billion people, the opportunity to learn, connect, create, and succeed remains elusive. He noted that the job of the 21st Century is to build up this inequality and said the most important question we need to answer in the next 20-40 years is “How?”.
During the Worldwide Public Sector keynote this afternoon, we had the opportunity to expand on those some of the themes highlighting the opportunity for technology innovation. My team at Microsoft is working to spur discussions with educators, governments and a host of local and global partners about expanding access to relevant and affordable technology so that all communities can experience the benefits of social and economic opportunity. We want to help people answer the “how”; how to help governments become more efficient, engage citizens and create opportunities and jobs.
Governments around the world are looking for game-changing answers in providing quality healthcare, keeping their people safe and secure, and educating their young people. They are looking for the best ways to spur local economic growth, create jobs and lay the foundation for long-term economic competitiveness.