Microsoft, Apple, and other tech companies are working together to make it easier for people with impaired vision to use braille displays across devices and operating systems. Working with the USB Implementers Forum, the tech companies announced a new USB Human Interface Device, setting a standard for braille displays.
The technology will enable “plug and play support for braille displays” according to a Microsoft blog post announcing the new standard. Microsoft says the standardization will make it easier to develop devices for people who are blind or have low vision without creating custom software for each operating system.
The USB Implementers Forum, an organization that supports USB technology adoption, announced the new standard Thursday. Windows accessibility program manager Jeff Petty called the technology ” one example of how we can work together, across the industry, to advance technology in a way that benefits society,” in a statement. The goal is to reduce the unemployment rate for the 253 million people estimated to have some form of vision impairment by The World Health Organization.
Accessibility is a marquee issue for Microsoft in 2018. The Redmond, Wash. software giant is the presenting sponsor of this year’s Special Olympics in Seattle. This week, Microsoft is hosting a two-day Ability Summit, bringing technologists and Seattle-area leaders together to discuss inclusion.