Technology Summit To Empower People

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The Surface tablet with the slim black bar attachment on Jay Beavers’ desk can do an incredible thing: Give a voice to someone who has lost the ability to speak or move their limbs — all by tracking the person’s eye movements.

But that’s not enough for the software engineer lead and his team at Microsoft. They’re working to make it better, faster and easier to use so that people living with ALS, spinal cord injuries or other disabilities can have more natural conversations without frustration.

“If you look at the technology for people with ALS, there’s more we can do,” Beavers said. “Our ultimate goal is to empower people with ALS to do more— talk more easily, play with their kids and move their wheelchairs independently.”

Empowering people with disabilities is the driving force and goal behind Microsoft’s Ability Summit this week, when the company’s engineers, designers and other tech pros will work side-by-side with people with disabilities from inside and outside Microsoft, parents and other accessibility advocates to “create that next wave of great products and services” to empower people, explained Jenny Lay-Flurrie, senior director of the Trusted Experience Team and leader of the summit.

The fifth annual event, beginning Tuesday, is a way to bring Microsoft’s approach to diversity and inclusion to life. “We think about how we imagine stuff, build amazing new products and services, and enable people with disabilities to do more and build more inclusive workplaces,” she said. “We have an opportunity at Microsoft to empower the world.”

Read more of this story at Microsoft News Center.

Tracy Ith
Microsoft News Center Staff

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