A businessman in a wheelchair speaks to his team during a video conference call on his computer.

AI is transforming how people with disabilities access the world by meeting the diverse needs of over one billion individuals worldwide who have a disability.

As Microsoft observes Global Accessibility Awareness Day this year, we’re inspired by new technological advances and expanded capabilities that support digital accessibility. With innovation from our global partner ecosystem, we are accelerating the prioritization of accessibility as a business deliverable, alongside increasing market momentum and customer expectations for inclusion. 

Accessibility milestones and solution advancements

With the launch of Microsoft Copilot Accessibility tools, we can now use generative AI to assist everyone in work and life. 

One of these features is Ask Microsoft Accessibility, an online Bing AI-powered tool that provides users with information about the accessibility of Microsoft products and services. Users can input their questions and the AI discoverability tool will provide suggestions and resources. If they need technical assistance with accessibility issues, they can also contact the Microsoft Disability Answer Desk.

In April, Microsoft welcomed over 17,000 people across 137 countries for the 14th annual Microsoft Ability Summit to connect with experts and learn how the latest tech can enhance accessibility and deepen our collective understanding of bridging the disability divide. This content is available on demand at aka.ms/AbilitySummit.  

Partners accelerate adoption and delivery of accessibility

Momentum and focus on accessibility are accelerating. In the European Union, work is underway to prepare for 2025 when the European Accessibility Act (EAA) will take effect. Earlier in May, Microsoft participated with the European Disability Forum (EDF) at the 4th annual European Accessibility Summit in Brussels. This is part of our effort to engage with policy makers and industry players to prepare for the EAA. 

No single company can fulfill the need and demand for accessibility. At Microsoft, we know partners are critical in this journey. More than 4,000 partners attended sessions on accessible tech at Microsoft Inspire 2023, where we presented the Microsoft Accessibility Horizon Methodology.  

The Accessibility Horizon Methodology offers a common way to identify and address accessibility needs, with partners and customers, to create a long-term value chain of inclusion with their employees and industry. This video provides an excellent summary with partner examples.



Accessibility Horizon Methodology in action

In Horizon 1, the adopt phase, the aim is to help organizations adopt strategies and tools for accessibility and disability inclusion through flexible work approaches, meeting current employee expectations for inclusion. Fundamental to Horizon 1 is the empowerment of people with disabilities in the workplace, and that includes the tech sector. 

Nexer supports organizations to develop knowledge and best practices with Microsoft 365 and Copilot to build more inclusive workplaces. See how they drive accessibility adoption within their organization and with customers.

In Horizon 2, the build phase, focuses on creating products, enterprise-wide processes, business applications, and services that are part of routinely accessible infrastructure so that users with different needs can engage and participate.

mhance enables organizations to adopt Dynamics 365 in the modern workplace and create digital infrastructure with accessibility in mind. Watch how they support co-design and build accessible applications with customers.

In Horizon 3, the innovation phase, drives digital transformation by making accessibility and inclusive design the fundamental principles that underpin innovative industry-relevant solutions to transform the customer experience.

WPP’s Satalia is making advertising more accessible for blind and low vision audiences by using AI to enrich audio descriptions so that they can better understand the context and experience the content. Watch how they are innovating to enhance accessibility for the advertising industry.

There has never been a better time to deliver accessible tech and innovation that is inclusive by design to employees and customers across the globe. Join us in taking steps to elevate inclusion within your organization and build accessible solutions into your co-sell offerings in the Microsoft Commercial Marketplace. All partners are encouraged to leverage the Accessibility Horizon Methodology, take actionable steps to enable your accessible co-sell solutions, and develop a strategic accounts engagement plan. Become a champion for accessibility and disability inclusion for and with your customers today.

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