REDMOND, Wash., Dec. 3, 1998 — Microsoft Corp. today announced the creation of a new international grant program to support research and product development initiatives that make PC technology more accessible and effective for people with disabilities. The new program, Exploring PC Accessibility: New Discoveries, was introduced today during a presentation by Microsoft’s accessibility group before the United Nations, in conjunction with the U.N.’s International Day of Disabled Persons.
Microsoft will award one-year grants of up to $50,000 cash to educational or not-for-profit organizations that are developing accessibility technologies to be placed in the public domain. A total of $250,000 will be distributed through this program, all of which will support innovations that help people with disabilities take advantage of cutting-edge technology simultaneously with other users.
“There is a compelling need for Microsoft and the PC industry to anticipate how evolving technology can be made accessible,”
said Greg Lowney, director of accessibility for Microsoft.
“Microsoft is committed to building accessible products and fostering innovation in accessibility across the industry. We believe that the research initiatives supported by this grant will have near-term benefits for computer users with disabilities.”
The Exploring PC Accessibility: New Discoveries grant also is intended to increase the knowledge base of all groups dedicated to improving accessibility of PC technology and to facilitate the dissemination of new accessibility concepts and products. Perhaps most important, the grant will provide an opportunity for those in the accessibility field to share new thinking.
“Microsoft is extending its accessibility agenda by providing resources for an important pilot project to re-engage people with disabilities, through small and innovative developers, in the development of appropriate and accessible technology tools,”
said Russ Holland, program director, Alliance for Technology Access.
“By providing development resources for this market, which is often perceived as ‘marginal,’ this project has the potential to show the efficacy and impact of a consumer driven model, as well as to demonstrate clearly that when technology tools are designed to meet the needs of people with disabilities, the end result is better and more useable for everyone.”
“Computer technology can provide the means for a person with a disability to travel just about anywhere around the globe (even to the remotest regions of our outback),”
said Michael O’Leary, managing director of Spectronics, a supplier of computer access technologies in Australia.
“But for many such people, they might as well be on another planet when it comes to accessing PCs with the standard keyboard and mouse that so many of us take for granted. The commitment that Microsoft is making with the generous research funding it has announced today will greatly assist with the never-ending search for innovative, alternative access options for tomorrow’s PC technologies.”
Applications for Exploring PC Accessibility: New Discoveries grants must be submitted on or before Feb. 12, 1999. Information about the grant program and application process can be obtained from Microsoft’s accessibility Web site at http://www.microsoft.com/enable/ . Award
winners will be announced March 16 at the Technology and Persons With Disabilities Conference, hosted by California State University Northridge in Los Angeles.
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