[Guest Blog] Tech Accessibility in Action: Stories from the Greater China Region

Published Apr 17 2020 04:56 PM 1,204 Views
Microsoft

Humans of IT strives to share stories from around the world. Today, we continue our Accessibility series with this guest blog post written by Azure Developer Product Marketing Manager E.J Youk, who is based in Hong Kong. E.J will share her tips and personal takeaways on how she used technology to stay connected and prepare for her online session showcased during the Microsoft Online Tech Forum in the Greater China Region (GCR). 

 

The COVID-19 global pandemic has prompted many companies and tech communities to cancel or postpone their conferences and events, quickly turning things around to run online activities using video conferencing tools to try and replicate the in-person experience instead. 

 

Just this week, Microsoft’s Greater China Region (GCR) team wrapped up a two-day virtual conference called the "Microsoft Online Tech Forum". It was the largest regional online forum delivering 56 unique sessions covering 8 major technical tracks where both developers and IT Pros had the opportunity to gain insights and skill up on emerging technologies including AI, DevOps, App innovations, Security, Modern Workplace solutions and many more! If you missed these sessions, check out all the recordings here.
 

event page.JPG(Image: Microsoft Online Tech Forum homepage)

 

I was very fortunate to take part and moderate a Humans of IT panel discussion on a topic I am truly passionate about - Accessibility and #TechforAll. As a firm believer of using tech for good, I was thrilled to prepare the session - from inviting relevant guest speakers to aligning the content and enabling smooth event orchestration. Ironically, after weeks of working from home at an unprecedented scale and experimenting with 100% virtual interaction with people within and outside my organization, I was finally able to realize just how important accessible technology is.

 

There’s no doubt that working remotely for a prolonged time is not easy and you can end up feeling unstructured from broken routines and limited resources. So I wanted to share some helpful tips and my personal takeaways on how I have been using technology to stay connected and prepare for my session showcased during the Microsoft Online Tech Forum.

 

  1. NETWORK IN THE VIRTUAL WORLD
    Even though nothing beats going to networking events in person, at a time where face-to-face interaction is limited, let me share how you can achieve an almost similar outcome. I suggest you start by reaching out to your existing connections using professional networking platforms like LinkedIn. Not only is it good to reconnect, but you will be able to expand the link of people who can help or guide you when you need it. If they can’t help you out, simply ask them if they can direct you to the right person to speak to. This is how I connected with my guest speakers and learnt all the amazing tech for good initiatives they are driving through their own businesses. Remember to add a personal note to make it more authentic and see what happens next!

    Alternatively, I try to make good use of this platform by joining various LinkedIn groups to meet with people in the same industry or who share similar professional interests. This way you can discover potential business opportunities with those who have years of experience with best practices and creative perspectives.

 

  1. CREATE MENTAL SPACE WITH TASK REMINDERS
    When you are juggling with multiple projects, it is important to place your full attention on one task at a time. This way, you can check things off your to-do list without interrupting the flow of your productivity. Of course, it is easier said than done to follow-up on action items in a timely manner (especially when there are lots of distractions at home!). However, your timeliness can help you gain trust from those around you, resulting in better team collaboration and partnership in the long term.

    Cortana was a game-changer for me while I was preparing for my online session. Every day, my brain was playing tug-of-war between working on my daily tasks and completing the outstanding items for the tech forum. However, I was able to stay on top of everything and not miss out on anything important with the help of technology. I received reminders every morning about the things I mentioned I would do, or the deadlines I had set over emails. Cortana's reminder functionality works by using machine learning, where it is able to pick up on time specific phrases or abbreviations like "EOD" to keep you informed on potential tasks (this functionality is enabled only with user's permission).

    Having your personal productivity assistant will keep you organized and even provide a somewhat therapeutic feeling when you're checking things off your list!  

EJ_Youk_1-1587152671408.png

(Image: Auto-generated email reminder via Cortana to follow up on post-event promotion)

 

 

  1. HAVE ACCESS TO A COLLABORATIVE PLATFORM
    For effective team interaction, enabling design-thinking skills and establishing a collaborative workspace are vital. I primarily used Microsoft Teams to communicate with people inside and outside of my organization. Neither of my guest speakers had Microsoft Teams installed, but they were still able to chat easily, run video calls, and share files freely on this tool via the guest access.

    The level of accessibility and inclusivity I experienced through tech did not stop here.

    As mentioned earlier, our Online Tech Forum was a huge cross-cultural team collaboration across different regions. Time to time, there would be internal group messages I received that were in Mandarin (I’m Korean). However, with the integration of inline translation functions in Microsoft Teams, I did not feel the language barrier at all as the text was translated into English with one simple click. Overall, I was able to navigate my responsibilities with my regional counterparts smoothly.

    Of course, there are many other options besides the platform or tools I have mentioned to achieve the teamwork synergy. If you would like a real honest review on which platform is a better fit in different situations when going virtual, be sure to check out this blog written by my fellow cloud advocate Sarah Thiam who is based in Singapore. 

 

Remote working is not new to us, but with more people working from home during this challenging time, accessibility, inclusivity, and self-care have become crucial elements to consider. I hope my tips will come handy in helping you prepare for virtual events, and get you inspired to reflect on what accessible tech means to you. What’s your story?

 

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If you are interested in topics around UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) or employee wellness/professional counselling, definitely check out the recordings of our online session. Our guest speakers Benita and Vincent shared their personal stories on how they are attaining tech for good objectives through their daily business. 

 

Thank you, and I hope everyone stays safe and strong during this time!

 

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Enjoyed articles like these? Be sure to check out other guest blog posts in our Accessibility series for the month of April below:

 

#HumansofIT

#TechForGood

#LocalStories 

 

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