Civic Tech: An Inclusive Approach

Accessible technology is a vital part of ensuring an inclusive society. When governments and schools ensure that their programs and technology are accessible, they enable people to expand their education, get jobs, and access public services. With more than one billion people with disabilities in the world, it is critical that we work together to ensure inclusivity in civic tech so that services and technology are designed with people of all abilities in mind.

At Microsoft, we’re passionate about accessibility and ensuring technology works for everyone. Our company mission — to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more — drives our commitment to inclusivity in our technology, culture, and workforce. Whether it is the opportunity we have had to work with schools on technology to support learning for students with dyslexia, our research partnerships to tackle issues such as the mobility challenges faced by people with sight loss in our cities, our commitment to transparency through our product roadmaps and self-reporting on our products’ conformance with accessibility standards, or our work to ensure inclusive hiring at Microsoft through efforts like the Microsoft Autism Hiring Program — we believe inclusion makes us stronger and that it is core to our ability to meet the needs of our customers.

And we are by no means alone. Technologists around the world are embracing inclusive design in order to develop great products for people of all abilities. Our Inclusive Design Toolkit can help provide tools for developers to build technology solutions for all by focusing on what unifies us as humans — our interests, motivations, relationships, and abilities — rather than on what sets us apart. And when we better understand human-to-human interactions, we can translate them to more delightful and meaningful human-to-technology interactions.

My Civic Tech Engagement Team at Microsoft is diverse, compassionate, and committed to working with those who are making the world better for everyone. The teams in Boston, New York, Chicago, San Jose, San Francisco and Seattle work with their local civic tech ecosystems to use technology to enable solutions and partnerships created by everyone, for everyone. It’s a collective effort informed by an inclusive and democratic approach. This type of collaboration fosters greater creativity and ensures solutions are available to meet the differing needs we all face as humans. We’re problem solvers, looking for other problem solvers like Code for America. And we are hungry for feedback and ideas for partnerships for progress, so don’t hesitate to reach out.

For more information about accessibility and inclusion in technology, visit our Microsoft Accessibility site and say hello at the upcoming Code for America Summit, November 1–3.