Windows 95 accessibility (fwd)

From: David Andrews (
Date: Tue Feb 20 1996 - 22:25:46 PST

Here is an update from Microsoft.
Thought it mighght interest some of you.
David Andrews

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Tue, 20 Feb 1996 08:33:36 EST
From: Jamal Mazrui <74444.1076@COMPUSERVE.COM>
To: Multiple recipients of list EASI <EASI@SJUVM.STJOHNS.EDU>
Subject: Windows 95 accessibility

The following is a recent exchange of correspondence between the
National Council on Disability and Microsoft Corporation
concerning the status of Windows 95 accessibility. It is being
distributed with the permission of both parties.

For more information, write to Microsoft at the address below or
send electronic mail to .

Jamal Mazrui
National Council on Disability


December 8, 1995

Brad Silverberg, Senior Vice President
Personal Systems Division
Microsoft Corporation
One Microsoft Way
Redmond, WA 98052-6399

Dear Mr. Silverberg:

In the spirit of ongoing dialogue about accessibility issues of
interest to NCD and Microsoft, I am writing to inquire as to the
status of accessibility related objectives since our
communications last Spring. The disability community was excited
by the news of the accessibility positions created at Microsoft,
the OSM technology licensed from Henter-Joyce, and the grant to
Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic. You should be aware,
however, that in recent months there is a growing concern about
the lack of tangible results of accessibility related
development. While there is great respect for the individuals
focusing on accessibility at Microsoft, there are also questions
about whether they receive adequate corporate support.

As you may know, Jamal Mazrui, a policy analyst at NCD, attended
the Microsoft Accessibility Summit in July and met with members
of your accessibility team in October. The summit, he reports,
was of high quality and we commend you for this leadership
initiative. We also appreciated the time that several staff took
to meet with him recently. As a partner in this cause, we have
widely publicized your corporate policy on accessibility,
software guidelines, and job listings.

As we approach the end of 1995, would you now clarify in writing
the status of Windows 95 accessibility? Many in the disability
field are interested in an update on the progress made, problems
encountered, plans underway, and expected delivery dates in areas
that include the following:

 * AbleHelp applications programming interface, expected fourth
quarter 1995;

* off screen model, expected second quarter 1996;

* OLAE accessibility;

* audio tutorial, expected December 1995;

* closed captioning, Show Sounds, and Sound Century software

* electronic documentation;

* personnel recruitment, since the lead developer position for
accessibility remains vacant;

* consumer testing;

* Microsoft Network accessibility, reported to have inadequate
keyboard alternatives to the mouse;

* Windows logo program, since we believe this to be a critical
inducement to third party developers in complying with
accessibility guidelines; and

* accessibility evaluation mechanism.

The aspirations and plans of people with disabilities rely to a
significant degree on the accessibility of what is becoming the
dominant desktop computing environment. It is my hope that your
response will confirm your continued commitment to these issues.
I would appreciate your response promptly so it can be received
and disseminated by the end of December. We appreciate the
importance of providing credible information to the public and
wish to facilitate that process.

Thank you for your consideration to this letter and for your
commitment to accessibility. Congratulations also on the
technical and market achievement of Windows 95!


Marca Bristo

 Microsoft Corporation Tel 206 882 8080
One Microsoft Way Telex 160520
Redmond, WA 98052-6399 Fax 206 936 7329

     December 21, 1995 Microsoft

Ms. Marca Bristo, Chairperson
National Council on Disability
1331 F St., NW
Suite 1050
Washington, DC 20004-1107

Dear Ms. Bristo:

I am writing in response to your inquiry as to the status of
accessibility development on Windows 95. First let me assure you
that Microsoft as a corporation and I personally remain committed
to making accessible products.

I believe our strategy of developing AbleHelp, the Off-Screen
Model (OSM) and OLE Accessibility in conjunction with our support
of ISVs [independent software vendors] is sound and tenable. By
providing support for accessibility aids within the operating
system, we can reduce the development burden on accessibility
application developers and reduce the amount of modifications
required when products are updated.

Our plans and efforts are a means to insure that as technology
evolves, its power is as readily available to persons with
disabilities as anyone else. A healthy and robust community of
ISVs [independent software vendors] and IHVs [independent
hardware vendors] is an essential part of that plan.

With respect to our status on specific projects, I have added a
number of Microsoft developers to our accessibility efforts. I
have assigned a senior Windows developer to our AbleHelp, OSM and
OLE Accessibility work. I have assigned the responsibility for
development of AbleHelp and OSM to a senior development manager,
the person responsible for the most affected Windows component,
namely USER. I have also enlisted the efforts of the Windows
shell development team to help. If these prove
not to be enough resources, more will be added from the existing
development staff, rather than waiting as we did before to
recruit new developers.

A design review of AbleHelp and OLE Accessibility will be held at
the CSUN [California State University at Northridge] Conference
in March. [This is more than a design review: ISVs/IHVs will receive
sample code, learn how to implement OLE Accessibility, and receive the
tools to do this.]

The OSM in part relies upon our development work on AbleHelp and
OLE Accessibility. Charles Oppermann has been doing some
development work in this area. We are currently looking for
another developer to work on the OSM, freeing Chuck to manage the
overall accessibilities program. Microsoft Corporation is an
equal opportunity employer.
With respect to electronic documentation, we have provided our
Windows documentation to RFB&D, [Recording for the Blind &
Dyslexic] and they expect to deliver a product shortly. ["Introducing
Microsoft Windows 95" was released by RFB&D in December, and they are
currently working on Office 95 documentation. Expect that this sometime
this spring.]

Future modifications and/or enhancements of the Windows
Accessibility Options has not been finalized. Incorporation of a
minimal-function keyboard, screen enlarger and text-to-speech
(TTS) are some of the technologies we are considering. We will
remain vigilant to technological advancements that may have
profound impact on the lives of individuals with disabilities. We
will, of course, add the Accessibility Options to Windows NT 4.0.

Thank you for your interest in our plans and the users for whom
they are designed. Through these efforts I believe Microsoft will
have a substantial, long-lasting effect on adaptive technology. I
understand, as you mention in your letter, that there are
questions whether our accessibility team is receiving adequate
corporate support. I also understand that we have disappointed
you this year in some of the things that we have done (or perhaps
not done). However, I want you to know that I have made it clear
to my entire [Windows] team that [accessibility] is a priority. I trust
that you will
see we have made much progress in terms of resources working on
the issues. I appreciate being able to discuss our plans with

Brad Silverberg
Senior Vice President
Microsoft Corporation

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