Microsoft Unveils New Tools For The Disabled

    January 24, 2007

Microsoft, along with assistive technology (AT) vendors, has announced a whole slew of products and services for people with disabilities at the eighth annual Assistive Technology Industry Association conference.

The products will be available when Microsoft launches the Windows Vista and Office 2007; both scheduled to hit the shelves next Tuesday.

“Today marks the culmination of a process that began almost two years ago, when we brought over 30 AT companies into our labs to give them a first look at Windows Vista,” said Rob Sinclair, director of Microsoft’s Accessible Technology Group.

“We’ve made these companies an integral part of our development process, and as a result an unprecedented number will have updated versions of their products available simultaneously with the launch of Windows Vista and the 2007 Office release.”

In the past, users with disabilities might have had to wait up to 18 months for software and devices to be released in support of a new operating system. Close collaboration with the AT group this time around, however, has enabled the company to coincide the release of these technologies with Vista’s launch.

Some assistive products include screen readers, screen magnification tools, one-handed keyboards and other specialized input devices.

“In the past it’s been challenging for the AT community to ship updated versions of our products in a timely fashion following the release of a new version of Windows or Office,” said Doug Geoffray of GW Micro Inc., which develops the screen reader Window-Eyes to assist people who are blind.

“But because Microsoft has done such a good job collaborating with us during the development process of Windows Vista and the 2007 Office release, there is a lot of confidence and excitement in the AT industry about the launch of these new products.”

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Joe is a staff writer for WebProNews. Visit WebProNews for the latest ebusiness news.