Microsoft is driving disability consciousness

Global technology giant Microsoft is working to reduce the ‘disability divide’. People with Disabilities are the largest minority group in the world with a collective global buying power of UU$8 trillion.

In 2019, Microsoft swept up major awards at international advertising festivals for ‘Changing the Game’, a campaign for the Xbox Adaptive Controller which was made for gamers with limited mobility. The controller was designed to make gaming more accessible, and the experience easier and more enjoyable for people with disabilities. Designers used the feedback they got from gamers and disability advocates to shape the product’s features, including the packaging.  There are more than 400 million gamers with disabilities across the globe. It would have been a huge miss if the people who made the controller hadn’t taken into account how the end-user would get to it.

In just the past five years, brands across various categories such as technology, fashion and sportswear, beauty, and FMCG have turned their attention to the needs of people with disabilities, accelerating innovation and releasing inclusively designed products, services and campaigns. The pandemic has only further fuelled disability consciousness among brand marketers.

Globally, only one in 10 people with disabilities have access to the assistive technology they need. The ‘disability divide’ is essentially the gap in societal inclusion for people with disabilities, be it in education, employment, and access to technology. As we recover from the pandemic, it is all the more critical to decrease this divide. The Microsoft Accessibility Evolution Model defines how behaviours, practises, and processes can reliably and sustainably produce desired outcomes. This accessibility maturity model has enabled it to understand year-on-year growth, by division and function, and track progress.

Accessibility is fundamental to the way it thinks about any marketing campaign or customer outreach. One of the key efforts in the past three years is making all its digital touchpoints accessible for every consumer. Feedback from the community of People with Disabilities has helped a lot in this ever-evolving journey. Microsoft conducts an Accessibility Fundamentals course for an external audience presenting core ideas and definitions needed to understand accessibility concepts and promoting the use of technology to address the challenge of disabilities.