Microsoft Receives Universal Design Award in Recognition of 12 Years Of Accessible Products and Technologies

PROVIDENCE, R.I., June 16, 2000 — In recognition of its work in making the Microsoft® Windows® operating system and other software accessible to the broadest range of users, including users with disabilities, Microsoft Corp. today will receive a Ron Mace Designing for the 21st Century Award during the Designing for the 21st Century annual conference on universal design.

The award is given to organizations that excel in universal design concepts — a worldwide design movement to make products, environments and communication usable to the greatest extent possible by the broadest spectrum of users. Microsoft, one of seven organizations honored this year, is being recognized for making the Internet, multimedia applications and the Windows operating system usable by the broadest and most inclusive spectrum of people, and is the only software company honored.

“It is a tremendous honor for Microsoft to be recognized for the work we’ve done to create software and technologies that are accessible for all users,”
said Greg Lowney, accessibility strategist at Microsoft.
“The benefits of technology are immense but can only be fully realized through accessible and universal design. At Microsoft we strive to define, promote and implement accessible design to improve not only our own products but the entire industry.”

“In choosing the recipients of the first Ron Mace Designing for the 21st Century Award, we looked for organizations with leadership that has nourished a vision of design that works for everyone and that has taken the critical steps to make that vision real,”
said Valerie Fletcher, president of Adaptive Environments.
“By any measure, Greg Lowney and Microsoft have earned this honor.”

The Importance of Accessible Design

Over the past 12 years, Microsoft has been a leader in implementing universal design and accessible design, which today has led to the wide range of features in Microsoft products that make them easier to use for people with disabilities. Microsoft’s Accessibility and Disabilities Group, which Lowney founded, works closely with product developers, as well as with disability advocates, to ensure that accessibility features are included in Microsoft’s most popular products such as the Encarta® multimedia encyclopedia, Windows 2000, Windows 98, Office 2000 and the Internet Explorer feature in Windows.

For example, the Accessibility Wizard, which is included in Windows 98 and Windows 2000, helps people adjust their computers to accommodate their needs and preferences, such as making text larger, changing screen colors and making the mouse easier to use. Microsoft Windows 2000 adds several useful new accessibility tools such as the Narrator, On-Screen Keyboard and Magnifier to help people with disabilities when full-featured accessibility aids are not available.

While universal design is extremely important, it is just one of the concepts that Microsoft incorporates into a broader corporate vision of accessible design.
“When we talk about accessible design, we’re stressing not only the notion of universal design, but also compatibility with assistive technology for users with specialized needs,”
Lowney said.
“Our vision of ‘Technology for Everyone’ can only be realized by also working with the many assistive technology vendors whose specialized products work with Microsoft’s to create the broadest range of accessible solutions.”

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq
“MSFT”
) is the worldwide leader in software, services and Internet technologies 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, Windows and Encarta are either trademarks or registered trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.

The names of actual companies and products mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.

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Microsoft accessibility strategist Greg Lowney today accepted on behalf of the company the Ron Mace Designing for the 21st Century International Award, which recognizes Microsoft’s visionary leadership in universal design.