REDMOND, Wash., Dec. 3, 1998 — Whether they write code or use a PC to draft their church newsletter, few people would disagree that computer technology evolves at break-neck speed. This pace of change means that new products and technologies are constantly finding their way into our lives at work, home and school. For people with disabilities, however, new technologies too often are out of reach unless they are retrofitted to function with existing software and accessibility aids.
Microsoft’s Accessibility and Disabilities Group, in concert with Microsoft Community Affairs, has created an international accessibility grant program designed to attack this problem. The program, “Exploring PC Accessibility: New Discoveries,” was announced this week in conjunction with the United Nation’s International Day of Disabled Persons. It will support non-profit research and product development to increase accessibility of PC technologies for people with disabilities.
“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.”
One-year grants of $10,000 and $50,000 will be awarded to non-profit and educational institutions for exploration of technology concepts and actual research and development. A total of $250,000 will be awarded in 1999 through the program.
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. Award winners will be announced March 16 at the Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference, hosted by California State University, Northridge, in Los Angeles.