How the pandemic has affected accessible technology, with Microsoft

Jenny Lay-Flurrie, Microsoft's Chief Accessibility Officer, joined Robin Christopherson MBE, Head of Digital Inclusion at AbilityNet, who hosts a monthly online chat with individuals who are each working to improve digital accessibility and digital inclusion.


In this session Jenny shared her insights into technology innovations during the pandemic. 


"I think from a technology perspective, it's definitely driven a ton of innovation. If you do put out something that's inaccessible it's far more profound because you don't have the ability to just grab a pair of eyes." Jenny said.

Highlights from the webinar

Robin Christopherson and Jenny Lay-Flurrie

Microsoft Teams and Covid


Jenny discussed further the impact Microsoft Teams has had with more people working from home:


"A ton of the features that we're seeing in Teams - things like hand-raise, which is such an easy one where you can just put your hand up you press a button and it makes you visible. Something like that was put in on the back of feedback of ‘I don't know when to butt in’. 'I don't know when the next pause is going to be' and 'I'm scared of overlapping other people' will let me just put my hand up."

Among other discussion topics, Jenny and Robin chatted about Be My Eyes, and Microsoft's Ability Summit.

Watch the webinar in full and download the transcript:

You can also listen to the session as a podcast: 

For additional information read answers to frequently asked questions about AbilityNet webinars.

Follow up answers from the webinar

Jenny followed up with answers to some of the attendee questions posed during the webinar. Read Jenny's answers below:

Does Microsoft have plans for an Avatar to translate speech into BSL?

Sign Language research and specifically sign to text or over time – avatar, is in its early infancy. What is important is to ‘how’ to tackle this. I would encourage folks to read this Mircosoft paper about Sign Language.

There are still issues with Outlook and Jaws. Are there plans to revisit accessibility with this program?

Yes, we continually work on accessibility across all products, especially Office including Outlook.

Does the captioning in Teams mark who is speaking as in Captioning in Google Meet?

Yes, this was announced recently and will be rolling out in coming weeks.

Useful links mentioned on the webinar:

Date of webinar: 
21 Jul 2020 - 13:00