Doubling down on accessibility: Microsoft’s next steps to expand accessibility in technology, the workforce and workplace
More than 1 billion people around the world live with a disability, and at some point, most of us likely will face some type of temporary, situational or permanent disability. The practical impacts are huge. Employment and education rates are lower and poverty rates are higher for people with disabilities. And unfortunately, societal inclusion for this critical community has been flat for 30 years. Yet if there is one thing we have learned from 25 years of work on accessibility at Microsoft, it’s this: People with disabilities represent one of the world’s largest untapped talent pools, but we all need to act with bolder ambition to empower disabled talent to achieve more.
That’s why today we’re announcing the next phase of our accessibility journey, a new technology-led five-year commitment to create and open doors to bigger opportunities for people with disabilities. This new initiative will bring together every corner of Microsoft’s business with a focus on three priorities: Spurring the development of more accessible technology across our industry and the economy; using this technology to create opportunities for more people with disabilities to enter the workforce; and building a workplace that is more inclusive for people with disabilities.
We can’t create the next generation of accessible technology unless we attract more people with disabilities to play a bigger role in helping to develop it.
Our work starts by ensuring that Microsoft’s own products are accessible by design, so that as we advance our features and functionality, we can help everyone across the spectrum of disability be more productive. Finally, we will support this with a broad technology initiative with new support for basic research and new data science capabilities to advance innovation on an ongoing basis.
Accessibility by design
We recognize that accessible technology by itself will be insufficient to create the opportunities that people with disabilities deserve. We also know firsthand that the development of accessible technology requires more talented individuals with disabilities. Studies show that companies that hire, support and promote talent with disabilities financially outperform their peers.
Workforce development needs to be coupled with broader and more effective work to foster a welcoming and inclusive culture for people with disabilities. This needs to include more effective work to attract employees with disabilities, accessible digital and physical work environments, building an accessible supply chain, and helping partners with their accessibility journeys.
As our workforce grows, we have expanded the global centralized accommodation processes to ensure that every employee has what they need to be successful.
Apr 28, 2021 at 16:42