Why isn’t Windows Phone 7 accessible to blind people? I covered this before: Microsoft is like open-source in that no overriding authority can order accessibility to be taken seriously. (At Apple, there is such authority.)

Now we have an admission straight from the source. According to a report from the AFB:

Andy Lees, president of Microsoft’s Mobile Communications Business, accepted responsibility, saying, “We were incompetent on this.”

Now compare the words of Bill Gates while visiting Toronto to receive an award, 2002.08.20: “I make the commitment that I and Microsoft will spend the rest of our careers making sure we deserve this award and doing more for blind people.” Such as?


The article quoted above described a meeting (2010.10.26; notes) that Microsoft held with the AFB and six other blind organizations, including the technically inept and despised CNIB.

There, Microsoft admitted to complete incompetence in accessibility. The fact a blind person can use an iPhone with no added anything (in fact, with nothing more than an initial sync with iTunes) was mentioned at the meeting.

But how resistant are these blind organizations to the facts? Won’t they head home and go right on recommending that blind people buy a Windows box they can’t use, then spend a thousand bucks on a third-party screen reader that crashes, instead of just buying a new, immediately-accessible Mac at as little as half the price of a Windows screen reader?

Because after all, if there’s one lie blind organizations love to repeat, it’s “Apple isn’t accessible.” I speculate they’ll keep saying that even now that Microsoft, with which they have a Stockholm-syndrome-like relationship, admitted to their faces “We were incompetent on this.”

What blind organizations want is the only thing they’ve ever known (Microsoft products), not accessible products. They cling to that self-delusion because of an unwillingness to accept that times have changed and the biggest barrier to technology access for the blind is Microsoft.

I wish blind organizations had strong enough ethics to do two things: Call for a boycott of inaccessible Microsoft products (i.e., all of them) and announce unequivocal support for accessible Apple products (i.e., every computerized product save for the iPod Classic).

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2010.12.14 12:40. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:

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None. I quit.

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