[Athen] Microsoft Accessibility Collaboration Opportunities

Tue Apr 12 12:39:35 PDT 2016

I would love to be part of this and participate. I use both Mac and PC on a daily basis. Outlook 2013 at least 8-hours per day.
It would be great for the Mac version to be more usable and accessible.

I am a helpdesk technician so I have to support both products.

Thank you
From: athen-list [mailto:athen-list-bounces at mailman13.u.washington.edu] On Behalf Of Hadi Rangin
Sent: Wednesday, April 06, 2016 6:38 PM
To: Access Technology Higher Education Network <athen-list at u.washington.edu>
Subject: [Athen] Microsoft Accessibility Collaboration Opportunities

Hello friends & colleagues,

As you know, together we were able to improve the accessibility/usability of many products in the past 10-12 years. We collaborate successfully with many vendors for higher education including Blackboard, Desire2Learn, Moodle, Instructure, Elsevier, Ebsco Publishing, Elluminate, Qualtrics, Trumba, ServiceNow, and many more.

In 2013 a couple of colleagues of mine from UIUC and I tested & evaluated Microsoft Lync and Outlook. We shared the results with them and wanted to engage them in similar collaboration efforts as we have with all other vendors but we were unable to do it as their NDA terms and conditions were not acceptable to the UIUC legal team. As the result, we never had the chance to discuss our findings with the respective product development teams.

The good news is that they have used our findings about Outlook and Lync to improve their accessibility in their latest versions. I don't know at this time how much of our recommendations have been utilized in the latest version but I am glad that they have at least considered them.

Last week a couple of my UW-IT colleagues and I had a productive meeting with JJ Cadiz, the head of program management for Desktop Outlook and principal owner of accessibility for all the Outlook clients and a few colleagues of his team. We discussed how we could collaborate and contribute to the accessibility of Microsoft products.

To be honest with you, I have never seen Microsoft so motivated to work with the accessibility community toward improving the accessibility of their products, and I would like to use this opportunity to establish a constructive and productive collaboration with them.

We are working to establish two parallel groups that will be working with Microsoft on accessibility of their products. This is a rare opportunity for us to get involved and shape the accessibility of the products that we all have been using in hopes of changing the culture of accessibility at Microsoft.
1. Microsoft Collaboration Group
Microsoft Collaboration Group is a long-term project to extensively improve Microsoft Office family products. Some of the products in question are Outlook client, OWA, SharePoint, Office 365, etc.

* Purpose:

o Establish a long-lasting, sleek, and energetic collaboration group with Microsoft.

o Select one product at a time, identify accessibility/usability issues, and discuss the findings with the respective Microsoft development team.

* Commitment:

o Have knowledge and experience in accessibility and accessible design.

o Are interested in collaborating on accessibility of MS products.

o Can dedicate minimum of 5 hours in a month.

This collaboration involves accessibility/usability testing and evaluation and reporting on the products that we choose. We will finalize the logistics once we have the 10 members.

2. Mac Outlook Project
Mac Outlook Project is a project focusing specifically on Mac Outlook. We want five folks use it as their everyday, primary mail client. We expect to have Mac Outlook insider builds available for a long time.

* Purpose:

o Provide direct feedback to Mac Outlook Engineering Team about the accessibility and design of the product.

* Commitment:

o Be an everyday user of Mac Outlook who's living on the insider builds.

o Provide ten to fifteen minute feedback on rare (maybe one per month) design changes.

o Available for the occasional (once every 3 months) 1-hour call.

Time commitment would be for as long as folks are willing to participate.

If you are interested to join either of these collaboration groups, please let me know.


Hadi Rangin
IT Accessibility Specialist
Mary Gates Hall 064C
University of Washington
Phone: (206) 685-4144

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