Achieve Inclusivity through Accessibility

Chris Howarth, Phoenix’s Business Development Manager for Charities & Housing Associations, talks about the available Microsoft technologies driving inclusivity and accessibility.

“One great aspect of working at Phoenix is that we are 100% public sector focused – this means that the work we do with our customers really does make a difference, not only to their organisation but to their customers as well. This can be patients at a hospital, students at a college, tenants at a housing association or a recipient of one of the many and diverse range of charities that we work with.

Having the pleasure to work specifically within the Charities and Housing sector I get to see the amazing work that these organisations do on a daily basis and it truly is inspirational – and as Microsoft’s aptly named flagship event ‘Inspire’ recently took place, I’d like to pay credit to the innovative, inclusive and accessible technologies that they enable us to deliver to our customers and their customers thereafter.

As a society, there have been great leaps forward over recent times when it comes to inclusivity, awareness, open-mindedness and the eradication of discrimination and while there is always more that we can collectively do, I think it is something that all of us striving to make that difference should be proud of.

Through the use of technology, we are now seeing tangible ways that we can bridge those gaps and I’ve outlined below just some of the focus areas that, up until now, might have previously prevented some people from carrying out work, personal tasks or daily activities.

Vision

  • For people who are blind, colour blind or have low vision – accessibility features can provide a larger screen, perhaps brighter screen or a narrator to read text
  • The screen-reading app, Narrator, offers simplified navigation and intelligent image description, making it easy to explore a page without missing a thing on the screen
  • Seeing AI brings together the power of the cloud and AI to deliver an intelligent app that helps you navigate your day with the help of narration describing people, text and objects
  • Microsoft Soundscape is a research project that uses innovative audio-based technology to enable people with blindness or low vision to build a richer awareness of their surroundings, thus becoming more confident navigating new environments

Hearing

  • For those who are hard of hearing, have hearing loss, or have deafness, there are now specialised features that can provide solutions including closed captioning, mono sound and live call transcription
  • Display auto-generated subtitles on a presentation in any of 60+ supported languages with the Presentation Translator add-in for PowerPoint
  • Let each audience member follow along with captions displayed in their chosen language on any device with Microsoft Translator
  • If you have partial hearing loss or deafness in one ear, Windows 10 helps you to hear more from your computer. Just turn on mono audio, and your left and right speakers will play the same sounds

Neurodiversity

  • Innovative tools such as dictation and Windows Hello sign-in can make the digital world more accessible for those who live with dyslexia, seizures, autism or other cognitive differences
  • Tell Me lets you quickly access commands in several Office 365 applications without having to remember their exact name or location in the ribbon. You can use Tell Me to assist with formatting, discover the difficult-to-find capabilities and even get scoped help in Office 365 using everyday language
  • Focus assist blocks alerts and notifications, so you can get things done without distractions. Don’t worry, if there are some people you don’t want to ignore, you can add them to a special list and when you finish focusing, you’ll get a summary of what you missed
  • Use Reading view to clear distracting content from web pages, so you can stay focused on what you want to read. With Learning Tools in Microsoft Edge you can have documents read aloud to you.
As Microsoft’s Global Modern Workplace Transformation Partner of the Year, we have a great opportunity and responsibility to introduce these types of solutions and continue to make a real difference as part of the work we do.
Chris HowarthBusiness Development Manager, Phoenix Software

Learning

  • People living with learning disabilities can now access applications that help increase focus, concentration and understanding— these also include tools to improve reading and writing skills
  • Read more effectively with Learning Tools that read text out loud, break words into syllables and identify parts of speech. Sustain attention with a focus mode and adjustable spacing between lines, letters and words – available for OneNote, Word and Outlook on various devices
  • With Editor, see any misspellings, grammatical mistakes and writing style issues as you type in Word and Outlook for PCs. Get suggestions for phonetic misspellings, see synonyms alongside suggestions and have suggestions read out loud to avoid common word choice errors

Mobility

  • For those living with arthritis, quadriplegia, spinal cord injuries and other mobility issues, there is now a suite of technology tools to help navigate the digital world in non-traditional ways
  • Convert your speech to text with Dictate in Office 365 applications such as Word, PowerPoint and Outlook. Also available is the Dictate add-in for Word, Outlook and PowerPoint which supports dictation in 20+ languages and real-time translation to 60+ languages
  • If physical disabilities make it difficult to use a keyboard, Windows 10 offers built-in support for eye control—an effective way to use your PC with just your eyes

Mental health

  • Assistive technologies help people living with issues such as bipolar disorder, anxiety, PTSD, depression or ADHD. These products can help with distraction, reading and concentration
  • Windows makes it easy to minimise distractions by reducing animations and turning off background images and transparency. You can also clean up taskbar clutter and simplify the start menu

Either we experience one or more of these difficulties ourselves or we know someone that does and as Microsoft’s Global Modern Workplace Transformation Partner of the Year, we have a great opportunity and responsibility to introduce these types of solutions and continue to make a real difference as part of the work we do – so that we can practice what we preach and ensure that we continue to grow as a more inclusive society”

Let’s Talk

To discuss the Microsoft technologies driving inclusivity and accessibility, contact the Phoenix Team today on 01904 562200, email hello@phoenixs.co.uk or fill in the form below: