Today, at the 26th Annual International Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference, sponsored by California State University, Northridge (CSUN), Microsoft announced the availability of Microsoft Accessibility Tools & Training, a package of free online accessibility training courses, tools and other resources to help developers worldwide create technology products, services and websites that are accessible to people with disabilities, and to enable business leaders to make more strategic technology decisions.
Microsoft also offering an accessibility resource guide to help organizations meet the needs of people with all types of abilities. The guide, which can be downloaded or printed, provides specific information about many types of disabilities, impairments and age-related difficulties and some of the accessible technology solutions that can help address them.
The training courses, tools and resource guide are all available online; most of these resources are also available on CD.
Also announced two new accessibility add-ins for Office 2010, which enable real-time collaboration between people with vision or hearing impairments and their peers at work, school and home:
- Save as DAISY (Digital Accessible Information System) for Microsoft Office 2010, which helps people who are visually challenged take full advantage of the latest version of Office.
- The Subtitling Text Add-in for Microsoft PowerPoint 2010 (STAMP) to assist people with hearing difficulties by enabling PowerPoint users to easily add closed captions to video and audio files in their presentations.
The seven new training courses from Microsoft cover a range of topics, including Web accessibility and Windows platform technologies such as Windows Forms and the Windows Presentation Foundation. Armed with this content, developers can focus on anything from general accessibility to development of accessible websites with specific technologies such as Microsoft Silverlight, HTML5 and ARIA (Accessible Rich Internet Applications). Each training course stresses the importance of designing accessibility into products and internal systems from the start of the development cycle.