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media: informative study:Fw: Microsoft Accessibility Update, February 2004

From: David Poehlman <poehlman1@comcast.net>
Date: Mon, 2 Feb 2004 11:06:55 -0500
Message-ID: <000401c3e9a6$957372c0$6501a8c0@handsontech>
To: "wai-ig list" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>


----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Microsoft"
<0_57693_1AA9AD3B-D6B5-1E4A-919E-CAA8B435CE4E_US@Newsletters.Microsoft.com>
To: <poehlman1@comcast.net>
Sent: Monday, February 02, 2004 11:03 AM
Subject: Microsoft Accessibility Update, February 2004


MICROSOFT ACCESSIBILITY UPDATE, February 2004

www.microsoft.com/enable/

See below for:
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Headlines
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NEW RESEARCH STUDY SHOWS 57 PERCENT OF ADULT COMPUTER USERS CAN BENEFIT FROM
ACCESSIBLE TECHNOLOGY -- MICROSOFT INTRODUCES RESOURCES, TUTORIALS, AND TIPS
THAT ADDRESS NEEDS OF AGING WORKERS AND EMPLOYERS

REDMOND, Wash. -- Feb. 2, 2004 -- Accessible computer technology, often
associated only with people with disabilities, can benefit a much larger
segment of the population, according to a new study conducted by Forrester
Data and commissioned by Microsoft Corp.

While accessibility options were originally designed for people with
disabilities, the Forrester study shows that 57 percent of current
working-age computer users may benefit from accessible technology because of
mild to severe vision, hearing, dexterity, speech and cognitive difficulties
and impairments. As the U.S. population continues to age, the number of
people who experience these impairments will increase, and more people will
likely turn to accessible technology to mitigate the effects of their
changing physical abilities.

"Future economists studying 21st-century workforce trends will find the most
successful companies were the ones that saw the worker shortage looming and
put in place strategies to minimize the impact," said Beth B. Buehlmann,
executive director of the Center for Workforce Preparation, U.S. Chamber of
Commerce. "Valuing the contributions of aging workers and providing the
assistive technologies to help retain them in the workplace are two such
strategies."

To help address this issue, Microsoft today kicked off an Aging Workforce
campaign to educate aging workers and employers on how accessible technology
can help them keep their competitive edge and help businesses recruit and
retain aging workers. One campaign goal is to make more people aware of how
they can make their computer easier to use by adjusting built-in Microsoft®
Windows® operating system options, such as the text size and color and
system sounds. The campaign takes a lighthearted approach and includes
helpful information at a new Web site called Overview of Aging and
Accessible Technology (http://www.microsoft.com/enable/aging/), which
includes a list of tips accompanied by illustrations by Brian Basset,
nationally syndicated cartoonist and creator of "Adam@Home."

Microsoft, which for 15 years has had a corporate policy to make its
technology accessible to all users, commissioned a nationwide study to
better understand the potential market for accessible technology. The
report, "The Wide Range of Abilities and Its Impact on Computer Technology,"
brings to light the large number of people with mild difficulties and
impairments who may benefit from accessible technology. For example, people
who have trouble reading ordinary newsprint -- a difficulty common to
approximately one-third of U.S. adults aged 18 to 64 -- also may find it
hard to read text on a computer screen; this problem can be solved easily by
enlarging the size of the text.

"The research results -- particularly the high number of computer users with
impairments -- were surprising initially, but we knew they could help dispel
the traditional idea that people fall into only two categories: those with
disabilities and those without," said Madelyn Bryant McIntire, director of
the Accessible Technology Group at Microsoft. "In fact, there are millions
of people along the continuum of human ability for whom accessible
technology can make a difference. Microsoft is sharing the results of this
study in the hope that this new information will provide an additional
incentive for all of us in the technology industry to continue innovating in
the area of accessible product design."

AGING WORKFORCE CAMPAIGN: PROVIDING TECHNOLOGY RESOURCES, SOLUTIONS FOR
AGING WORKERS
The Forrester study underscores the link between the aging population and
the increasing need for accessible technology. According to the Bureau of
Labor Statistics, more than 50 percent of the U.S. workforce will be 40
years old or older by 2010. This trend is likely to continue; the number of
younger workers entering the workforce is expected to decline while older
workers are likely to delay retirement.

AARP (formerly known as the American Association of Retired Persons) reports
that, because of improved health and longevity as well as financial need, 69
percent of employees over age 45 plan to continue working past age 65. These
statistics emphasize the urgent need to begin evaluating and addressing the
affect this demographic shift will have on the nation's workforce and
economy.

"Whether out of choice or necessity, mid-career and older workers are
planning to stay active in the workforce much longer, and having access to
technology that recognizes and accommodates their changing abilities is
going to be critical," said Jim Emerman, chief operating officer of the
American Society on Aging. "The campaign that Microsoft has launched to
raise awareness of this issue among businesses and older workers themselves
is a vital contribution to helping our society adapt to changing
demographics, and we are pleased to have Microsoft as a partner in this
effort."

Microsoft's new aging workforce Web site,
(http://www.microsoft.com/enable/aging/), provides tutorials and other
resources that help businesses and information workers implement solutions
to the challenge of an aging workforce. To help communicate this
information, Basset created a series of downloadable cartoons that feature
Adam facing the ways that growing older is affecting his computer use.

"Like my character Adam, I firmly believe that humor is an aging worker's
best ally in the war against bifocals and stiff joints," Basset said. "I
hope people will post these cartoons around their workplace as a way to not
only have a laugh or two, but also to learn how a few tweaks to their
computer settings can help offset some of the more common aspects of aging."

Also included on the site content are these resources:

--A new Microsoft white paper, "The Convergence of the Aging Workforce and
Accessible Technology," outlines the challenges at hand for aging workers
and their employers, and offers guidance for both groups on how they can use
accessible technology to their advantage. The white paper can be found at
http://www.microsoft.com/enable/aging/workforce.aspx.

--The site includes information about technology features that are available
in existing software and hardware but often go unused. Microsoft Windows XP,
for instance, provides numerous features that can help users experiencing
mild to moderate vision, hearing and dexterity impairments.

--Step-by-step tutorials walk users through the process of activating the
accessibility features in Windows and Office.

--Information also is available on assistive technology products. These
products are specially designed to accommodate individual needs.
The site lists more than 100 companies that offer products such as speech
recognition systems, alternative keyboards and screen readers.

THE FORRESTER STUDY:  ADDITIONAL BACKGROUND AND METHODOLOGY
In spring 2003, Forrester Data conducted a nationwide study of a
representative sample of the U.S. population (with a statistical precision
of plus or minus 1 percent) to measure the potential U.S. market of people
who could benefit from using accessible technology. The study identified the
type and severity of difficulties and impairments that respondents
experience when performing daily tasks. Respondents were asked a range of
questions about difficulties and impairments, computer use, their attitudes
toward technology, and their demographic characteristics. The complete
Forrester study can be accessed at
http://www.microsoft.com/enable/research/.

ABOUT MICROSOFT'S ACCESSIBILE TECHNOLOGY GROUP
Microsoft's dedication to making its technology accessible to all users
began with the launch of Windows 2.0 in 1988, and the company further
strengthened that commitment in July 1995 with a corporate policy that makes
every employee responsible for ensuring that all users have access to
Microsoft products and services. More information about Microsoft's
accessibility efforts can be found at http://www.microsoft.com/enable/.

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq "MSFT") is the worldwide leader in
software, services and Internet technologies for personal and business
computing. The company offers a wide range of products and services designed
to empower people through great software -- 
any time, any place and on any device.

Microsoft and Windows are either registered trademarks or trademarks of
Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.
The names of actual companies and products mentioned herein may be the
trademarks of their respective owners.

For more information, press only:
Debbie Watson, Waggener Edstrom, (503) 443-7000, debbiew@wagged.com
Rapid Response Team, Waggener Edstrom, (503) 443-7070, rrt@wagged.com

Note to editors: If you are interested in viewing additional information on
Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft Web page at
http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/ on Microsoft's corporate information
pages. Web links, telephone numbers and titles were correct at time of
publication, but may since have changed. For additional assistance,
journalists and analysts may contact Microsoft's Rapid Response Team or
other appropriate contacts listed at
http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/contactpr.asp.

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Tip of the Month
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Tips for the Awkward Age of Computing:
Check out useful tips for baby boomers -- illustrated with Brian Basset
cartoons -- to help counter the effects of age-related difficulties with
vision, hearing, and dexterity at
http://www.microsoft.com/enable/aging/tips.aspx.


For more tips and tricks, visit
http://www.microsoft.com/enable/products/tips/search.asp.

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About the Microsoft Accessibility Update Newsletter
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The Microsoft Accessibility Update is a free e-mail newsletter sent to
subscribers in the first week of the month.

This newsletter provides updates of information about Microsoft
accessibility products and services. This newsletter is managed by the same
group that manages http://www.microsoft.com/enable/, Microsoft's
Accessibility Web site.

You received this free newsletter because you are a subscriber to Microsoft
Accessibility Update. See below to learn how to update your subscription or
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Received on Monday, 2 February 2004 11:07:28 UTC

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