LOS ANGELES, March 20, 2002 — Microsoft Corp. today demonstrated its ongoing commitment to making technology available to everyone by announcing the newest wave of industry support for Microsoft® Windows® XP operating system-compatible technologies being developed to enable people with disabilities to live, learn and work more productively. The announcement was made at the 17th annual international conference on assistive technology sponsored by the Center on Disabilities at California State University, Northridge (CSUN).
The support for Windows XP has been delivered with unprecedented speed. In the past, disabled users often had to wait up to 18 months for assistive technology software and devices that would support a newly released operating system. The new products and technologies announced at the CSUN conference this week are from Assistive Technology Inc. (ATI), IntelliTools Inc., Kurzweil Educational Systems Ltd., Macromedia Inc., Madentec Ltd., ScanSoft Inc., Words+ Inc. and ZYGO Industries Inc. They join previously announced Windows XP-compatible products from companies such as Ai Squared, Dolphin Computer Access, Freedom Scientific Inc., GW Micro Inc., Interactive Solutions Inc., NXi Communications Inc. and Tash Inc., which were available to users when Microsoft launched Windows XP in October.
In developing Windows XP, Microsoft worked closely with Compaq Computer Corp. and other assistive technology vendors to ensure that software such as screen readers, screen magnifiers and on-screen keyboards, and hardware such as one-handed keyboards and augmentative communication devices would be available to users as soon as Windows XP hit the shelves.
“Microsoft continually strives to make each of its products more accessible than its previous versions, and with Windows XP we had compatible assistive technology products available right away,”
said Gary Moulton, manager of Assistive Technology Vendor Relations at Microsoft.
“Microsoft is committed to working with assistive technology manufacturers to ensure that people with disabilities continue to have the best experience possible with each new version of the Windows operating system. Having so many of our industry partners making innovative technologies available so quickly helps us achieve that goal.”
Like Windows XP, Microsoft Office XP provides solutions to address customers’ accessibility needs. One example is that Office XP applications include basic speech-recognition functionality, which enables people to enter and edit data, control menus, and execute commands by speaking into a microphone. When used together, Office XP and Windows XP provide an exceptional desktop usability experience for customers using assistive technologies.
Accessibility Partners Deliver Innovative Solutions Built on Microsoft Technologies
Mercury, a new comprehensive solution created by ATI and compatible with Windows XP, allows people with disabilities to employ a single device to perform virtually any task for which they use assistive technology — from converting text to speech and controlling household appliances to surfing the Web.
“What Mercury provides is a way for people with disabilities to perform a wide range of functions,”
said Jim Lewis, president and CEO of ATI.
“Most assistive technologies perform only one or two tasks. Our solution is compatible with a mainstream operating system, Windows XP, and built on ATI technology that gives users with disabilities everything they need in one device.”
Lewis recalled an 8-year-old girl with cerebral palsy who used a Mercury device as part of ATI’s testing program.
“She was unable to speak and had been using a very rudimentary communication device that provided speech tools,”
“But the device was cumbersome and did not integrate with her existing technologies and environment. Using Mercury, the girl was able to use her own wheelchair joystick to control multiple functions more intuitively, plus customize her ability to interact with the world and those around her.”
Macromedia also has built accessibility support for Microsoft Active Accessibility® tools into both the Macromedia Flash™ MX development software and Macromedia Flash Player 6. This support enables people with disabilities to interact with Macromedia Flash content and applications using accessibility aids such as screen readers. Macromedia Flash MX simplifies the creation of accessible Web content by enabling designers, developers and Web site managers to add descriptive text to rich Internet content and applications.
“Macromedia is committed to ensuring that our products can be used to deliver great experiences to all people, including those with disabilities,”
said Pat Brogan, vice president of solutions at Macromedia.
“Integrating support for Microsoft Active Accessibility into Macromedia Flash Player 6 gives designers and developers tools to create exciting and engaging experiences for all users.”
Microsoft Participates in Variety of Activities at CSUN Technology Show
To further demonstrate Microsoft’s ongoing commitment to including accessible technologies in its products, Madelyn Bryant McIntire, director of the Microsoft Accessible Technology Group, and Moulton will participate in this week’s CSUN conference in Los Angeles, leading sessions on the accessibility features of Windows XP and Office XP, accessibility leadership, and the continuing importance of innovation in the area of assistive technologies.
More information about assistive technologies is available from the Microsoft Enable Web site, http://www.microsoft.com/enable/at/ .
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