This year marks the tenth Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) on May 20th and we want to underline its purpose to get us talking, thinking, and learning about digital access and inclusion. More than 1 billion people worldwide experience some form of disability and every one of us will face some type of exclusion at some point in our lives, whether temporary or permanent. At Microsoft we believe in empowering others while ensuring no limitations to what they can achieve.
As we continue to add value and drive impact where we can, we recognize the challenges that existed and were amplified by the pandemic this past year further leading to a disability divide. From recruitment to innovation, we are learning and applying what we learn from the community of people with disabilities while advocating for all of us to do our part.
Bolstering our commitment
We remain committed to our technology reflecting the diversity of all who use it. Our new 5-year commitment includes next steps to expand accessibility in technology, the workforce and workplace. Locally, in Canada we also announced a partnership with Lime Connect. A not-for-profit organization, representing 6000 members in Canada with a disability, Lime Connect will help us focus on creating accessible spaces, expanding our efforts to attract and retain diverse talent and ensure strong global disability representation.
The Ability Summit statistics showed us twelve thousand of you, from 3500+ unique organizations joined. We had over 111 countries register, with Canada having the second highest number of attendees worldwide and the highest average view time. We saw multiple members of our Microsoft Canada team lead sessions as well as the honorable Carla Qualthrough, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development & Disability Inclusion sit down with our Chief Accessibility Officer, Jenny Lay-Flurrie for an in-depth fireside chat. . Watch the sessions if you missed them On Demand here, and access resources here.
Melike and Aydin’s story
We encourage you to watch this incredibly, moving story of a Microsoft employee Melike Ceylan-Leamen. Her journey with her son, Aydin and how MirrorHR a tool built on Microsoft Azure and AI has helped is nothing short of amazing. Through the collection and processing of data, MirrorHR shares an alert when an anomaly is detected, which in turn helps her and healthcare providers reduce the amount and severity of Aydin’s seizures. Thank you for sharing your story with us Melike.
Doing our part
We continue to ensure that accessibility is embedded in all that we do within Microsoft and work tirelessly to support you through technology, learning and development. To ensure we are leveraging our best every day and doing our part, all of us need to lean in and learn more. Here are a few things to help you:
Become more Accessibility Confident (aka Readiness):
- Reimagining the Future of Accessible Education with AI
- Accessibility tips for inclusive Microsoft Teams meetings and live events
- A Playbook to Inclusive Hiring
- Consider becoming a mentor
- Learn more, join The Lime Network (individuals with any disability) or join Friends of Lime at www.limeconnect.com
- Habits to create accessible content
As the world works together to move on from this pandemic, let us do our part in bridging the disability divide while empowering, everyone, everywhere.