A woman types on a braille keyboard while using a Surface Book

Microsoft wins Technology Initiative of the Year award for making its products accessible

Microsoft has won an award for ensuring its products can be used by as many people as possible.

The company took home the Technology Initiative of the Year prize at the Disability-Smart Awards in London. The event “recognises individuals and organisations around the world that have made an outstanding contribution to disabled people”.

Hector Minto, a Senior Technology Evangelist at Microsoft who focuses on accessibility, said: “We are delighted to have won this award from the Business Disability Forum.

“Microsoft designs all its products with accessibility in mind, to make life and work easier for all people. Only by ensuring features such as Immersive Reader and Read Aloud are available for everyone to use, do we level the playing field for people with disabilities and create products that everyone loves. Features that are designed and influenced by employees with disabilities often become features that we all love.”

Hector Minto, right, and Michael Vermeersch collect the award

Hector Minto, right, and Michael Vermeersch collect the award

Microsoft embeds accessibility features into its products to ensure people with a range of disabilities can use technology to its fullest.

Earlier this week the company announced that Skype and PowerPoint would soon get live captions and subtitles to help the deaf and hard of hearing community by offering the ability to read what is being spoken in real-time.

The Xbox Adaptive Controller won a major industry award last month for enabling people with limited mobility to play videogames. The controller, which empowers gamers to use their own buttons, joysticks and switches to mimic a standard controller, landed the Outstanding Contribution Award at the Golden Joysticks.

Other winners at the Disability-Smart Awards, which was held at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in Whitehall, included Sir Philip Rutnam. The Permanent Secretary of the UK Civil Service was handed the Senior Disability Champion of the Year award for his “ongoing commitment to championing employment opportunities for disabled people across all levels of the civil service”.

KPMG was named Influential Business of the Year for calling on companies to nominate disability champions.

Diane Lightfoot, Chief Executive of the Business Disability Forum, said: “Through the Disability-Smart Awards we aim to recognise those individuals who work tirelessly, and often with little recognition, to create a more inclusive environment for disabled people.

“Such was the variety of the good work being done that we have seen multinational companies, tech start-ups, councils and football clubs standing shoulder-to-shoulder in our group of nominees.”