Microsoft Accessibility Summit in India to empower people with disabilities

By : |May 31, 2017 0

The tech giant Microsoft hosted its first-ever Accessibility Summit in India on Tuesday and featured unique technology-based projects that empower people with disabilities.

“At Microsoft, we believe there are no limits to what people can achieve when technology reflects the diversity of everyone who uses it,” said Madhu Khatri, Associate General Counsel and Accessibility Lead, Microsoft India. “A market-driven ecosystem is the best environment for encouraging greater accessibility for all users.”

The summit witnessed innovations from non-profit organisations, assistive technologies developed by Microsoft partners as well as Microsoft solutions. A young team of three students from IIT Kharagpur showcased White Cane, a personal assistant device for the visually impaired, which they have developed as part of Microsoft Imagine Cup.

Innovision Tech, a Mumbai-based start-up, also developed a mini-typewriter-like device that serves as a personal computer for the visually challenged. Christened ‘BrailleMe’, the device can be connected to phones, laptops and computers. The device enables reading via electro-mechanically actuated pins. The device also has a Braille keypad to key in the text, which can be converted to regular text and transferred to other devices.

Shri Navreet Kang, Secretary, Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Government of India said, “We believe that inclusion of persons with disabilities is imperative for India’s growth. It is, therefore, critical that we empower them with equal access and opportunity. We look forward to public-private partnerships that can enable better social inclusion and help people with disabilities achieve more.”

The summit also examined how assistive technologies can assist in treating Autism Spectrum Disorders and Special Learning Disabilities (SLD). There was particular emphasis on the need for regulatory policies for innovation on available technologies and inclusive hiring practices. These interactions also provided insights into regulations, specifications and standards regarding accessibility along with an understanding of optimisation of existing hardware and software configuration to drive accessibility.

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