Microsoft Receives Top Honor for Hiring, Accommodating and Creating Accessible Technologies for People With Disabilities

REDMOND, Wash., Feb. 7, 2000 — Microsoft Corp. today announced that WE Magazine, a lifestyle publication for people with disabilities, has placed Microsoft at the top of its annual Golden Ladder list of companies who demonstrate leadership in hiring and accommodating people with disabilities on the job. Microsoft received this year’s top honor not only for its workplace policies and accommodation strategies, but also for the company’s efforts in creating accessible technologies and as a founding member of the Able to Work Consortium.

“This is one of the most important features that we run each year, because it deals with the most pressing issue facing people with disabilities: employment,”
said Charles A. Riley II, editor in chief of WE Magazine.
“It is no small honor for Microsoft to come out on top of this list.”

Each year, WE Magazine recognizes 10 companies that go beyond what is required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to recruit and accommodate employees with disabilities. Microsoft was placed third on the
“Golden Ladder”
last year and moved to the top of this year’s list.

“Many large companies have taken initiative to employ people with disabilities, and Microsoft has been one of these companies,”
said John Williams, a nationally recognized writer on disability topics who researched and selected the recipients of this year’s award.
“But Microsoft is an exemplary leader. Not only is it going out and hiring people with disabilities, but it’s also developing products for them.”

Accessible Technology

Microsoft’s Accessibility and Disabilities Group works closely with product developers, accessibility-aid vendors and disability advocates to ensure that the accessibility features included in Microsoft products enable all workers to benefit from the use of information technology on the job.

A number of Microsoft’s leading products, including Microsoft® Office 2000, the Microsoft Windows 98 operating system, the Internet Explorer feature in Windows, and the soon-to-be-released Windows 2000 operating system, contain features designed specifically for people with a variety of disabilities. More information about Microsoft’s efforts to create software and technologies for people with disabilities can be found at Microsoft’s Enable Web site at http://www.microsoft.com/enable/ .

Strength in Diversity

“We believe that people from the various disability-related communities provide us with valuable perspectives on how we develop products and services, how we market them, and how we deal with issues of customer satisfaction,”
said Santiago Rodriguez, director of Diversity at Microsoft.
“In other words, we benefit greatly in terms of innovation by having these viewpoints present among our employee work force.”

According to a recent National Organization on Disability/Harris study, only 29 percent of the 17 million working-age people with disabilities in the nation are employed, compared with 79 percent of the general population.

Able to Work Consortium

Last fall, Microsoft and the National Business & Disability Council (NBDC) created the Able to Work Consortium to increase employment opportunities for people with disabilities. The consortium’s primary purpose is to develop tools and strategies that will help businesses tap into the pool of over 8.5 million job seekers with disabilities.

The Able to Work Consortium is supported by a number of top North American corporations that are showing a strong commitment towards increasing employment opportunities for people with disabilities, including AT & T/AT & T Wireless, BoozAllen & Hamilton, Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., Caterpillar Inc., Crestar Bank, a subsidiary of SunTrust Banks Inc., Dell Computer Corp., Ford Motor Co., IBM Corp., Johnson & Johnson, Lucent Technologies Inc., Merrill Lynch & Co., Metropolitan Life Insurance Co., Microsoft, Mutual of America, NCR Corp., Procter & Gamble Co., Royal Bank of Canada, SAFECO Corp., UnumProvident Corp., US West Communications and Washington Mutual Inc.

The consortium has developed an interactive Web site at http://www.abletowork.org/ , which matches employers to job seekers through online job and resume postings from consortium members and other companies. Seven of this year’s 10 Golden Ladder award recipients are members of Able to Work: Microsoft, Johnson & Johnson, IBM Corp., Caterpillar Inc., Crestar Bank, Ford Motor Co. and BoozAllen & Hamilton. Microsoft and these companies hope by example to encourage other companies to see the benefits of hiring people with disabilities.

“Microsoft’s work in hiring and accommodating individuals with disabilities shows they are motivated to address the problem of underemployment among the disability community,”
said Francine Tishman, executive director of both Able to Work and NBDC.

Microsoft, as well

as the other member companies of the consortium, leads by example by demonstrating to other companies the benefit that individuals with disabilities can bring to help companies achieve success.

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq
“MSFT”
) is the worldwide leader in software for personal and business computing. The company offers a wide range of products and services designed to empower people through great software – any time, any place and on any device.

Microsoft and Windows are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.

Other product and company names herein may be trademarks of their respective owners.

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