The Microsoft Fall 2021 Event is now over, and we saw a lot of stunning new devices, but one of our personal favorite new offerings from Microsoft isn’t a gadget at all. The Surface Adaptive Kit has several sets of sticky bump labels to improve touch sensitivity for key caps, including translucent labels that don’t hide the keys, port indicator labels, and opener support for people with motor impairments.
Kris Hunter, the principle director of Devices UX Research and Accessibility, and Dave Dame, the Director of Accessibility for Devices, demonstrated how the Surface Adaptive Kit can be used to do everything from identify ports to help users open their devices using pull tabs and lanyards during the Microsoft Fall 2021 Event. “It’s not simply about developing accessible technology,” said Dame, who has cerebral palsy. “It’s more than about what a person with such technology may accomplish or experience.”
The Surface Adaptive Kit is compatible with all current and previous versions of the Surface, including the Surface Laptop 4, Surface Book 3, and the Microsoft Surface Pro 8. However, if we’re being honest, you can probably use these on any device you own, which is one of its best features.
It’s fantastic when a company adds accessibility features to its products, but it does little for those who don’t own them, especially when you consider that people with impairments are among the most economically vulnerable members of society owing to employment discrimination or even the inability to work at all.
We’ve reached out to Microsoft for more information on the Surface Adaptive Kit’s pricing and availability, and we’ll update this story when we hear back. however, it is going to be considerably less expensive than buying a whole new device just to gain access to enhanced accessibility options.
It’s a modest thing in the scope of things, but for those, it empowers to use new technology or even simply use their devices in a more comfortable manner, it is a significant step forward from where we were just five years ago when individuals with disabilities were largely ignored by the major tech firms.
Microsoft continues to lead when it comes to accessibility.
Computer hardware has long been one of the most straightforward barriers to overcome when it comes to accessibility, since a USB port is simply a USB port, and any device that meets USB standards will be recognized by a computer.
The number of mobile devices, including smartphones and tablets, is increasing at a rapid pace, and it’s here that accessibility is frequently neglected. While iOS and Android have accessibility features built-in, the device on which they are installed typically has no accessible interfaces.
While the Microsoft Surface Adaptive Kit is intended for Microsoft Surface products, there’s nothing stopping customers with impairments from utilizing these hard physical indicators on an iPad, which is a significant breakthrough.
You’d expect other well-known technological firms to have implemented something similar because seeing how simple it is to solve some of the most prevalent accessibility difficulties using the Surface Adaptive Kit.
However, as with the Xbox Adaptive Controller, Microsoft appears to be one of the few significant company tech firms that are concerned about addressing these issues. They deserve credit for that.
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