Posted by Laura Ruby
Director, Trustworthy Computing - Accessibility Policy & Standards, Microsoft

Today, in a ceremony hosted by FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski , Microsoft received a Chairman’s Awards for Advancement in Accessibility in recognition of the company’s work in creating a set of Accessibility Tools and Training Resources.

The awards were presented for the development of individual mainstream or assistive technologies introduced into the marketplace, the development of standards, or the implementation of best practices that foster accessibility. The timing of the a ceremony was very fitting because October is Disability Employment Awareness Month, and also marks the first anniversary of the Twenty-First Communications and Video Programming Accessibility Act (CVAA).

Accessible technology is a necessity for a growing number of people worldwide — from people with disabilities or age-related difficulties to those who need temporary assistance because of injury, environmental conditions or other circumstances. Accessible technology makes it easier for people with a wide range of abilities to see, hear and use computers and other devices, and enables them to access government services and information, secure and retain employment, and increase or maintain their productivity for as long as they choose to keep working.

The Chairman’s Awards for Advancement in Accessibility were designed to acknowledge the efforts of individuals, organizations, academics, companies and government agencies to make communication tools easier to use and more accessible to people with disabilities, as well as to encourage technological innovation and accessibility, in communication-related areas. The awards program, coordinated by the FCC’s Accessibility and Innovation Initiative that was announced in the National Broadband Plan, and launched at the Commission’s ADA 20th Anniversary Celebration on July 19, 2010, recognizes outstanding private and public sector ventures that advance accessibility for people with disabilities. 

Microsoft Accessibility Tools & Training Resources is a free set of extensive training guides and other resources for developing accessible software, equipment and websites. Microsoft initially developed the online tools and training courses to increase accessibility awareness and expertise among its own developer groups. In response to growing customer demand for accessibility guidance, however, Microsoft decided to make the resources available, free of charge, to corporations, governments and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) around the world that want to make technology more accessible.

We thank the FCC for this recognition, and congratulate our fellow winners and those who received an honorable mention for their contributions to raising the level of accessibility worldwide for people of all ages and abilities.

For more information about Microsoft accessible technology, visit www.microsoft.com/enable.