On December 3rd, 2011, i.e. on International Day of Persons with Disabilities, Microsoft India brought forth a new initiative, using which it hoped to “bridge the opportunity divide for people with visual, hearing and learning impairments”. In an official statement, Microsoft revealed that on the occasion of World Disability Day, it was going to unveil a host of products, which would make 'accessibility' a reality for scores of those across India who suffer from disabilities.
Making technology accessible to all..
At the event, which was graced by Union Minister of Social Justice & Empowerment, Mr Mukul Wasnik, Microsoft India doled out as many as 40 different templates, which Microsoft hopes would aid those disabled in easily accessing most commonly used public information circulars, forms, gazettes and notifications that are used in government offices. Using these templates, confirms the official statement, the process of creating accessible documents will get automated.
According to the statement, “The 40 templates created and released by Microsoft India today enable governments and businesses to have accessibility incorporated at the time of creating a document itself. The Accessibility Checker in Microsoft Office helps validate the conformity of the document to accessible norms, and highlight errors if any. For example, if a template is used to create a circular, it can easily be converted into a digital talking book or a large print-output document for a visually impaired person.” Additionally, to lend the ability to better use the templates, and other accessibility tools by Microsoft, the company will be, through its partners will organize training workshops (1/2 per quarter). To make the training sessions more fruitful, Microsoft India will work together with the respective government ministries and departments.
Furthermore, the “accessibility initiative” by Microsoft, confirms the official statement, comes with accessibility guides for educators, which will provide them with accessibility details. Such information, adds Microsoft will aid these educators in distributing these opportunities equally among those disabled. Guides have been provided to several government departments, who in turn will stay informed about accessibility solution needs of people.
Interestingly, the entire program seems to have been crafted, with an aim to make this training more than an one off thing. According to the official statement, “Employability for persons with disabilities is a key area of focus and through the Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) Certification, a globally recognized qualification, persons with disabilities can benchmark their knowledge and understanding of Microsoft Office.” With an added qualification like this, coming from a technology giant from Microsoft will definitely prove to be a big bonus to the career of those disabled.