[Microsoft Ignite 2019] Empowering everyone with technology—including people with disabilities
Published Oct 28 2019 06:42 PM 10.7K Views

Hi fellow Humans of IT!


This community is about sharing best practices and telling stories about how technology—and technologists like us—can truly empower humanity. As @Christopher Clai explained in his recent post, we have a responsibility to use our powers to connect the world, and to empower everyone—including  people with disabilitiesto achieve more. Through technology, we can transform this world into one of opportunity and unlimited potential for all of humanity. 


Our responsibility

As IT leaders, we have the power to change the work experience and lives of the 1 billion people in the world who are living with disabilities. Today, we already have the tools—like captioning, transcription and Immersive Reader—that make it possible to get work done more efficiently, simplify collaboration, and create pathways to building a successful and fulfilling career. The question is, how do we ensure companies and technologists around the world leverage these tools to make technology accessible to people of all abilities?


As Humans of IT, we know that’s a big responsibility but it's possible if we all take the time to educate ourselves on the topic, and plug in where we can. 


Learn about accessibility at Microsoft Ignite 2019!

Want to learn more about fostering inclusion and leveraging accessibility tools to create inclusive workplaces in your organization? The upcoming Microsoft Ignite conference features plenty of sessions where you can learn how to configure and use our technology to empower people with disabilities in your workplace, or in the workplace of your clients.


Planning your schedule for the week? Be sure to: 


  • Attend an accessibility-focused session! There are not one, not two but THIRTEEN fantastic sessions focused on accessibility and disability inclusion throughout Microsoft Ignite 2019! Challenge yourself to make time to attend at least a few during the week that you're there. Can't join in person? Be sure to catch the session recordings after the conference wraps so you can still benefit on these amazing resources and content. 
  • Let’s meet! Fill out *this quick form* to request a meeting with us! We can chat through your questions about accessibility in Microsoft 365, feedback on built-in accessibility features, and anything else accessibility related. If you are unable to attend Microsoft Ignite 2019, you can still use the form to request a call in the coming weeks at a time that works best for you. 


Want to attend some accessibility-focused sessions but not sure where to start? Here's a handy guide of our top picks of accessibility and disability inclusion sessions to attend at Microsoft Ignite! Note: All session timings are in Eastern Time. 


Microsoft Ignite 2019: 

Top Accessibility + Disability Inclusion Sessions To Attend 

(in no specific order/ranking)


1. Microsoft 365: Empowering Everyone with AI (Wednesday 11.6 @ 2:00 - 2:45 PM)

Get an overview of the AI-powered capabilities in Microsoft 365 that benefit everyone, including people with disabilities. Ricardo Wagner, Microsoft's Accessibility Lead in Canada, will talk through the reality of disability and diversity in the workplace, and how you can configure Microsoft 365 so it is optimally inclusive.


2. 10 Microsoft Teams tips and tricks that empower everyone (Monday 11.4 @ 6:55 - 7:15 PM)

We know Microsoft Teams is top of mind for many—whether you are considering deploying, are in the middle of a pilot, or have rolled out Teams to every employee. Join this demo-focused session to learn about accessible and inclusive capabilities built into Microsoft Teams.


3. Empower Lunch: Disability and innovation: The universal benefits of inclusive design, Hosted by Haben Girma (Wednesday 11.6 @ 12:15 - 1:15 PM)

Haben Girma is the first deafblind person to graduate from Harvard Law School, was named a Champion of Change by President Obama, and is an advocate for equal opportunities for people with disabilities. Join us to hear Haben discuss her journey as a disability rights advocate, and learn how we can all make our communities more inclusive. The first 400 in-person attendees to Haben's session at OCCC W224 will receive a complimentary copy of her new book!


4. Supercharging and tackling your ADHD with Office 365 (Wednesday 11.6 @ 4:00 - 5:15 PM)

In a world of distractions, where every app fights for your attention, it’s more important than ever to know how to “fight back”. Join Laurie Pottmeyer, Community Lead for Microsoft Teams and MVPs Loryan Strant and Christina Wheeler to learn how to optimize Microsoft 365 to create an environment in which you can focus, whether you have ADHD or simply want to get into your flow more easily.


5. Techniques for accessible report design in Microsoft Power BI (Wednesday 11.6 @ 2:15 - 3:00 PM)

When you visualize data, you can more easily discover and communicate important insights. Join Meagan Longoria, Microsoft Data Platform MVP, to learn more about the features in Power BI that make it easier for those with visual, cognitive, and motor disabilities to consume reports and visualizations. 


6. Accessibility in the Microsoft Power Platform (Thursday 11.7 @ 10:45AM - 12:00 PM)

When we make it possible for anyone to see a problem and build an application to solve it, it’s also important we make it easy to ensure these apps are accessible for users with visual, cognitive, and motor disabilities. Join Meagan Longoria to discuss new techniques to make Power Platform content more accessible, and ideas for how to build accessible design habits in your organization.


7.  Accessibility is everyone’s job at Microsoft – hear best practices from our own IT pros (Tuesday 11....

Disability is everywhere, including within Microsoft’s community of approximately 40,000 employees! Join Luke Gaylor to learn how Microsoft engineers are building accessibility and inclusion into the user experience (UX), research and design practices of employee product development, getting input from employees with disabilities, and working with third-party partners to embrace accessibility.


8. Accessibility best practices from inside the Microsoft enterprise (Monday 11.4 @ 5:45 - 6:05 PM)

In this quick 20-minute session, the experts in Microsoft Core Services Engineering and Operations (CSEO) will provide tips for incorporating inclusive design practices into the core of your development process for your own employee tools and apps.


9. Recognize exclusion, design for inclusion (Monday 11.4 @ 4:30 - 5:15 PM)

In the experiences you design, what barriers do you (inadvertently) create, and who do they exclude? Join Bryce Johnson as he takes you through the inclusive design principles we use at Microsoft, and how they were used to create the Xbox Adaptive Controller. 


10. Accessibility for everyone: Building solutions for real people (Monday 11.4 @ 1:05 - 1:25 PM)

The world is messy, and so is the way people use technology—we hold our Surface with one hand while we cook with the other. We sometimes forget our glasses, so we naturally bring our faces closer to the screen. Join Bill Ayers, Technical Director of Flow Simulation, to learn how to build software that acknowledges this reality, with the support of new AI tools and other assistive technologies.


11. Mental health: It's time to talk (Wednesday 11.6 @ 10:15 - 11:00 AM)

Mental health affects us all, albeit at varying levels of intensity. Whether you have a stressful week or are living with Bi-Polar Disorder, we often approach the topic of mental health and wellness with caution, if we speak about it at all. Join Ryan Yates, Microsoft MVP and mental health blogger, to learn how to detect preliminary signs your colleagues, friends, family or yourself may be suffering, and leave with tips for how to have more open conversations about mental health.


12. Building inclusive workplaces: Supporting coworkers with autism (Thursday 11.7 @ 3:15 - 4:00 PM)

The physical and digital workplaces in which we collaborate need to be inclusive of everyone, including people with autism. Join Microsoft MVP Dennie Declercq as he talks about his personal experience as a leader and developer with autism, and hear his advice on how to best work with colleagues with autism.


13. Intersectionality: The Real Diversity Superpower (Sunday 11.3)

The Microsoft Ignite Diversity and Tech pre-day focuses on understanding intersectionality as a diversity superpower. While disability will be discussed throughout the day, one particular panel session led by Dona Sarkar, Head of Advocacy for Power Platform specifically deep-dives into Neurodiversity as a Superpower. For those of you lucky enough to have secured your seat for the Diversity and Inclusion pre-day, I’ll see you there! For everyone else unable to join us on Sunday — look out for the recap blog and hope you can join us next year before we sell out!


14. Integrate speech and text translation into your apps using Azure Cognitive Services Translator (Tues...

Join Swetha Machanavajhala, lead of the award-winning Hackathon team that developed background blur in Microsoft Teams, for a talk on how to globalize businesses and include different populations with Azure Cognitive Services Translator.


See you next week!


Ali Oberg

PMM for Accessibility in Microsoft 365

Pronouns: She/Her






Version history
Last update:
‎Nov 01 2019 05:31 PM
Updated by: