[ATI] Sounds like we got Dissed by Microsoft
linda at coccovizzo.com
Mon Feb 7 19:21:40 CST 2011
Reading this article, I felt like Microsoft was saying we just don't fit into their world.
Keep pushing for accessibility on Windows Phone 7
November 12, 2010
On Oct. 26, 2010, I attended a daylong Mobile Accessibility Roundtable to discuss
nonvisual access of
newest entry into the mobile phone market, Windows Phone 7.
As it stands, the Windows Phone 7 is inaccessible to the blind and visually impaired.
Microsoft convened this roundtable at its headquarters in Redmond, Wash, and it was
attended by representatives of a number of blindness advocacy organizations, including
National Federation of the Blind
American Council of the Blind
American Foundation for the Blind
Canadian National Institute for the Blind
Royal National Institute of Blind People
(from the United Kingdom),
(the organization of the blind in Spain).
Prior to the meeting, numerous email messages were circulated, saying that
Windows Phone 7
would not be accessible to the blind. It was said that the predecessor to Windows
Phone 7, Windows Mobile 6.5, had been made accessible to the blind with the help
Mobile Speak and Talks
screen-reading programs, and these programs would not work with Windows Phone 7.
Accessibility advocates wanted to know what Microsoft was going to do about this.
While the news regarding nonvisual access to Windows Phone 7 was not what many of
us would have liked (it is not really accessible to the blind today), my natural
skepticism was somewhat mitigated by Microsoft's level of executive commitment to
Andy Lees, president of Microsoft's Mobile Business, spent a lot of time at the roundtable
and stated several times that he was personally committed to ensuring long-term nonvisual
access to the Microsoft mobile platform. This commitment was reaffirmed by Rob Sinclair,
Microsoft's chief accessibility officer; Chuck Bilow, Microsoft's senior program
manager responsible for Windows Phone accessibility; and Richard Suplee, a senior
product planner in Microsoft's Mobile Communications Business wing.
Windows Phone 7, we were told, is a "fundamental top-to-bottom rewrite from previous
Microsoft mobile operating systems. It is a completely new operating system and user
interface, meaning no applications from earlier Microsoft Mobile operating systems
will run on Windows Phone 7. No cell phone that can run Windows Mobile 6.5 can run
Windows Phone 7.
Microsoft told us it was not technically feasible to build the infrastructure needed
to support screen-reading software-no multi-tasking capability, no inter-process
communication, and no user interface focus.
So why was it necessary for Microsoft to engage in a total rewrite at all? Simply
put, Microsoft felt its Mobile Business was not doing as well as it would like and
that an entirely new strategy was required. Hence, Windows Phone 7.
It is regrettable that nonvisual access was one of the first casualties of this effort,
and it is also unfortunate that we are not likely to notice any improvement for at
least a year. However, during the roundtable, Microsoft did commit to working more
closely with the blind community as it develops a nonvisual access solution. Perhaps
more significant was the apparent recognition by Microsoft that in order to address
issues of accessibility in any meaningful way, the company has to do more to build
accessibility into its products directly instead of relying on outside parties to
furnish the solution, and in so doing, it must not shut out third-party vendors who
are in a position to develop programs that could help to make their products even
more usable by the blind.
Can Microsoft build a mobile product that is truly accessible to the blind? If past
history is any sort of a guide, the answer to that question is still in doubt. There
is little disagreement that over the years, Microsoft has done a lot to enable nonvisual
access to the Windows operating system and to some of its more widely-used applications-Microsoft
Office and Internet Explorer in particular. However, it is equally true that the
majority of products developed and sold by Microsoft today are still not truly nonvisually
If Microsoft follows through on its commitment to work more closely with organizations
of and for the blind to build an accessible mobile product, it is possible for a
useful and truly nonvisually-accessible mobile product to emerge. However, if our
history with the company has taught us anything, it is that advocates for nonvisual
access must continue the pressure for nonvisual access to Microsoft products and
regard with cautious optimism the company's assurances that it will do the right
thing on behalf of people who are blind or visually impaired.
It must not be forgotten that historically speaking, nonvisual access has traditionally
been the first item to be cut when tough business decisions need to be made. Somehow,
Microsoft must be given compelling reasons to build nonvisual access into its mobile
product line and to keep it there.
As Lees, president of Microsoft's Mobile Business, said: "Microsoft's goal is to
deliver platforms, products, and services that are accessible. We recognize that
there is more we can do in this respect, and our goal is to develop Windows Phone
into a compelling option for people who are blind or visually impaired."
The challenge is to ensure that Microsoft meets and perhaps exceeds this goal.
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