December, 2012

  • Microsoft Adds the Cherokee Language to Windows 8

    Editor’s note: Today we’re announcing support for the Cherokee language in Windows 8 as part of the Microsoft Local Language Program. The availability is a testament to the Cherokee Nation and their continued commitment to strengthen their language and sustain their culture for future generations.

    By Carla Hurd, Senior Program Manager, Microsoft Local Language Program

    When your speaker base is shrinking and your culture as you know it will be lost forever, what do you do? The Cherokee Nation is no stranger to the concept of language preservation. They have been a leader and exemplary example to all. This wasn’t always the case: a survey taken more than a decade ago found there were no Cherokees under the age of 40 considered conversational. Today, they have a speaker base of about 16,000. They knew that in order to sustain their language and culture for future generations, that’s exactly who they needed to start with – future generations.

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    When a language declines it usually starts with younger generations; they do not speak the language, then their children don’t speak the language, and so on. Before you know it, a small group of elders are the last speakers, and then the language goes extinct. This is not the case with Cherokee. The Cherokee Nation took action. As a result in 2001, they invested in Cherokee language immersion schools starting with preschool. This provided an environment for their children to be exposed to the language and culture while using it as part of their everyday activities, including technology. In the school, there is no English allowed; only Cherokee is spoken. Those children who first started in the immersion charter school are now in 7th grade, still continuing their Cherokee education and embracing their culture.

    Today technology is deeply integrated into our everyday lives – if that technology is not provided in the user’s native tongue, then they will use whatever language is accessible to them. That is why Microsoft believed it was important to work with the Cherokee Nation Language Team on creating access to our products in their language.

    The journey began over three years ago and as a result, we are pleased to provide a Language Interface Pack (LIP) for Windows in the Cherokee Language. This LIP translates and displays most of the commonly used user interface of Windows into Cherokee. Part of the process presented challenges as there were many terms which did not exist in the Cherokee language. When terminology did not exist, the translation team had to rely on elders or ancient texts for reference in order to assist in creating a new word as required for the translation. In addition, a new modern sans-serif user interface font Gadugi - the Cherokee word for “working together” - was developed to allow the localization and maintain the Windows 8 design style. This font supplements the more traditional Plantagenet Cherokee font that’s been part of Windows since Windows Vista.

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    The Windows 8 settings screen in Cherokee

     

    More about the Microsoft Local Language Program

    The Microsoft Local Language Program provides people access to technology in a familiar language while respecting linguistic and cultural distinctions. The program bridges the gap to technology through language and culture as well as empowers individuals in local communities to create economic opportunities, build IT skills, enhance education outcomes, and sustain their local language and culture for future generations.

    For more information on the Microsoft Local Language Program please visit http://microsoft.com/LLP.

  • Startup Youth Initiative

    Today, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton launched the Office of Global Youth Issues’ Startup Youth Initiative via a video message during the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Startup Youth will provide entrepreneurship programs and events in conjunction with the private sector to facilitate opportunities for young entrepreneurs to actualize their ideas, helping promote individual prosperity, job creation and economic growth in communities worldwide.

    The first event under the Startup Youth Initiative will be a joint Innovate for Good event we're co-hosting with the State Department. 

    Innovate for Good is a Microsoft YouthSpark program that enables youth to collaborate, inspire and support each other while using technology to make a difference in their communities and provides the tools and resources needed to bring their ideas to reality.

     

    Each event will begin with a speaker series that will focus on youth and entrepreneurship, led and moderated by Zeenat Rahman, the Secretary’s Special Adviser on Global Youth Issues, followed by a day-long Microsoft Innovate for Good workshop. Young innovators will spend the day learning skills on how to present and pitch ideas, hearing from leading social innovation and entrepreneurship experts, and leading ideas generated at these events will be "on-boarded" into the Innovate for Good online community where subsequent training and resources will be provided to help these potential ventures become reality.

    The inaugural program event, which will occur under the auspices of the Global Entrepreneurship Summit’s Young Entrepreneur Forum, will feature Special Adviser Zeenat Rahman, Akhtar Badshah, Senior Director, Microsoft Citizenship and Corporate Affairs, and a leading young entrepreneur, who will discuss the role of partnerships in facilitating the advancement of young entrepreneurs.

    Following the high level speaker series, a day-long Innovate for Good workshop will be held on December 13, 2012 at the Microsoft Dubai Training Center.

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    Akhtar Badshah, Ambassador Corbin and and Zeenat Rahman at today’s event in Dubai

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    For updates on the Startup Youth Initiative, follow it on Twitter: @zeenat, #startup_youth and #GlobalYouth.

    For more information on the Office of Global Youth Issues, please visit http://www.state.gov/globalyouth or https://www.facebook.com/GlobalYouthIssues

  • Fast Forward Sixty-four Years

    Dan Bross, Senior Director of Corporate Citizenship and Public Affairs, Microsoft

    Sixty-four years ago last week, The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was awaiting consideration and adoption by the United Nations General Assembly and the horrors of World War II were ever present. Since being adopted by the UN General Assembly on 10 December 1948, the Universal Declaration has served as the foundation for defining, protecting and advancing human rights.  The global human rights agenda marked another milestone in 2011 when the UN Human Rights Council unanimously endorsed the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

    As a student of history and political science, December 1948 was front of mind last week as I attended the first UN Forum on Business and Human Rights at the Palais des Nations in Geneva which brought together nearly 1000 individuals from 85 countries. The purpose – to discuss trends and challenges in implementing the Guiding Principles and to promote dialogue and cooperation on issues linked to business and human rights. If only the authors of the Universal Declaration could have been with us to witness and participate in a broad civil society discussion on the Guiding Principles “protect, respect and remedy” framework. I was honored and humbled to be asked to attend and present at the Forum and participate in a session panel discussion, led by University of Zurich Professor Christine Kaufmann, on the corporate responsibility to respect human rights and share Microsoft’s experience to date in implementing the Guiding Principles

    While Microsoft has a long history of working in cooperation with human rights groups and others in the ICT sector to tackle important human rights issues, the Guiding Principles provided the impetus and framework for the development and issuance, in July 2012, of Microsoft’s Global Human Rights Statement. During my remarks, I pointed out that our Statement reinforces (rather than replaces) our existing policies in areas such as privacy, equality and labor rights and sets forth four key beliefs to underpin Microsoft’s global strategy and approach to human rights:. 

    • Power of Technology: Like most technologies, ICT products can be used for good or ill. Microsoft believes that government, civil society and business have an opportunity, and a responsibility, to apply the power of technology to enable individuals to achieve their full potential in accordance with fundamental human rights.
    • A Global Approach: Business approaches to human rights should be based on internationally recognized standards, especially the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
    • Engagement: Business can most effectively respect human rights through presence in, rather than absence from, countries that present significant human rights risks.
    • Good Governance and the Rule of Law: Microsoft believes that businesses respect human rights by modeling and promoting good governance and the rule of law around the world.

    As I shared with session attendees, the codification of our Statement – while important – is the first stage in our implementation of the Principles.  For example, Principles 17 through 21 outline a corporation’s responsibility to carry out human rights due diligence and we are currently working the BSR to develop an assessment approach based on our commitments and responsibilities.

    Just as Microsoft’s Statement is but a first step in our internal process and discussions, so too was last week’s UN Forum.  While discussions among participants will surely continue, the World Economic Forum’s 2013 Annual Meeting in Davos provides a particularly unique opportunity to advance multi-stakeholder conversations on the Principles “protect, respect and remedy” framework.  The Forum has demonstrated over the last 42years its ability to advance discourse and share learnings across all sectors of civil society and I encourage Annual Meeting participants to demonstrate their individual commitment to human rights and pick up in Davos where we left off in Geneva.

     

  • Reputation and Corporate Citizenship

    The Reputation Institute has released the results of a study that interviewed 47,000 consumers across 15 countries to discover the impact of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) on their perceptions of a company and its products.

    Kasper Ulf Nielsen, executive partner at the Reputation Institute’s commented in a report in Forbes:

    “CSR speaks to who the company is, what it believes in and how it is doing business… Companies that are able to get recognition for the softer sides of their business are on the right path to building a sustainable business for the future.”

    As part of the study, the Reputation Institute ranked the top ten corporations with the best CSR reputations. Along with Microsoft, Google, Disney, BMW, Apple, Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen, Sony, Colgate-Palmolive and the LEGO Group made the top ten.  You can find out more about the study here.

    Microsoft’s approach to corporate citizenship

    At the recent COMMIT!Forum in New York, Dan Bross, senior director of Citizenship & Public Affairs at Microsoft, provided a brief overview of Microsoft’s approach to corporate citizenship, from our YouthSpark initiative to our commitments on carbon neutrality and human rights.

  • YouthSpark in action: Adrian Ordoñez Tostega

    By Megan West, Citizenship & Public Affairs, Microsoft

    Adrian Ordoñez Tostega spent the past few months in the Seattle area volunteering with a local nonprofit focused on helping immigrant families learn relevant technology skills to improve their employability. Adrian, who hails from Mexico, is a member of the Innovate for Good program and we had the opportunity to catch up with him last week.

    He has created Tech4Kids which aims to teach children in primary school the basics of computer programming through videogames and robotics, and builds familiarity and trust with technology at a young age. Adrian hopes that by introducing technology through these channels at a younger age, students will have more options as they look for college programs or employment later in life.

    Adrian is passionate about using his computer science skills and knowledge to make a difference in the world. This passion, paired with the help of Innovate for Good and the Sprout e-course, has taken Tech4Kids from a mere concept, to a viable venture with a business plan and funding goals. Adrian is prepping to launch Tech4Kids in his hometown of Veracruz, Mexico after he graduates from University in June.

    Supporting Adrian’s work is a great example of how Innovate for Good provides a global community enabling youth to collaborate, inspire and support each other while using technology to make a difference in their communities. As part of its goal to provide members with resources and information on building and maintain a social venture, Innovate for Good offers the nine week Sprout e-course.

    Innovate for Good is part of Microsoft YouthSpark and is operated in partnership with TakingITGlobal, who through the Sprout-e course takes participants through each step of the venture development process with a high level of interaction and one-on-one mentoring.

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