Universal Design in the Era of Digital Transformation - Creating a World for All Digital Transformation for Universal Design - Inclusive World

The 2017 Universal Design International Seminar has obtained written consent from the speaker to publish the summarized and edited content

SPEAKER: Keon Lee (National Technology Officer of Microsoft Korea)

Unlike in the past, the concept of 'disability' is today recognized in accordance with aspects of information accessibility and social context. Many problems can be solved through technology. If accessibility is not considered continuously while creating a new environment, people will feel new disabilities, and to prevent this, accessibility, interaction, and cultural change must be considered.

Microsoft's mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. Just as in the past Microsoft made it easy for people to access information and the Internet through PCs, its direction now is to help people achieve more than ever before through technology. In terms of increasing the accessibility of information by providing software services to all organizations and everyone, it can be seen that this is in line with the purpose of universal design.
When we approach the concept of disability, we think of individual health and physical condition first, but disability differs from general interactions and does not represent physical characteristics or health conditions. Of the many people with disabilities, 70% are visually impaired. In addition, in the United States, about 26,000 people each year have a permanent disability due to bodily injury, and some suffer temporary discomfort due to injury. Therefore, since disability is not determined and applicable by physical conditions, but can be experienced temporarily or contextually, design should be developed and services should be prepared according to these situational criteria.
There are over 1 billion people with disabilities on the planet. On top of this, as we are entering an aging society, in the future, more people may face a situation in which they need to work in a different environment or access information. Therefore, accessibility should be considered from a long-term perspective. Microsoft has already developed accessibility and high-contrast screen features in Windows since the early days of Windows in 1990, and will continue to do so in the future.

Cultural aspect; Diversity, growth in consciousness, and comprehensive design orientation
Recently, as the fourth industrial revolution is a frequent topic of conversation, many people are predicting not only changes in specific manufacturing or production, but also changes to the intelligence of society when combined with artificial intelligence. Microsoft sees the provision of this fourth industrial revolution in three main ways. It is expected that active computing will be done through more personalized devices, including smartphones, and improving work efficiency by creating services that have not been used in the past using cloud platforms is a big topic in the fourth industrial revolution era. 

Microsoft's products and services already consider accessibility. First, from a cultural point of view, Microsoft includes more inclusive aspects such as diversity and growth in consciousness. We identify specific talents that individuals have, and induce them to demonstrate their abilities and achieve results within the organization. In addition, Microsoft holds a coding festival where employees around the world can solve real-world problems for about a week through a program called Hackathon every year. It approaches solving problems from an inclusive point of view by connecting people online regardless of place and time, mainly thinking about what role software and cloud can play.

Accessibility aspect; Transparency, regulation and partnership
In universal design, it is the process that is important, not the standard. Therefore, we believe that it is achieved through policies that promote transparency and strengthen partnerships.
We are running a program called City Next for the realization of a smart city. Through this program, we are thinking about the role that IT can play in terms of urban accessibility and universal design. New York monitors vulnerable areas and offenders through CCTV, and if an element of anxiety is detected even if there is no crime, police are dispatched to the area in advance. These are included in the smart city program.

Interactive aspect; Consumption, communication and creation
In daily life, there are often differences in the degree of information and communication between people. We are committed to fostering interaction and equal educational opportunities through support. Taking coding education as an example, coding education for children can deliver content easily and help them have fun through computer games, but we found that there are many students who cannot actually use a mouse or monitor. To this end, educational tools were developed to provide coding education to children with disabilities and programs were operated to prevent discrimination in terms of education.

Coding education for children with disabilities

Also, many people on the planet suffer from dyslexia. Dyslexia, where even a very simple text, can be seen as a mass of letters, highlighting the letters according to the reading speed can allow the user to read them. With simple technical measures, we were able to offer a new way to help young students with dyslexia to read.
As another example, entertainment like a simple car racing game is designed only for ordinary people. We are not well aware of this, but the way the keypad is operated is designed in such a way that you must use your hands. Therefore, Microsoft's game console, Xbox, considered a method that enables game control such as moving up, down, left and right with different parts of the body and stepping on the accelerator of a car, and developed so that the game can be controlled with the mouth. Avatar characters appearing on the Xbox have also been proposed by Americans using wheelchairs, and will reflect various physical options in the future. This is because we believe that even a very small part can make a big difference in terms of accessibility for users.

Car Game controlled by mouth (Xbox)

Future investment; More intelligent experience, synergy, and independence
In the past, hardware equipped with a screen, keyboard, and mouse was typical of a computer, but now, AR and VR-based mixed reality that allows access to computing information without a mouse and keyboard is spreading, regardless of time and place. An environment where work and information access is easy is being created. Most of these technologies are based on Microsoft's cloud technology, but if you look at these comprehensive products and services in terms of investment in the future, it seems that more intelligent experiences, synergies, and efforts are needed to maximize independence.
For users who are not physically mobile due to paralysis of the lower body, Microsoft has developed a service that allows users to type on the keyboard by moving their eyes. A device that can write and send emails according to the user's intention by wearing a camera device and tracking eye movements is an example of providing a more intelligent experience for smooth communication.

Provision of intelligent experience; eye tracker

In addition, we developed a service so that the visually impaired can receive situational awareness and guidance through a simple application when they need an explanation for a specific situation in their daily life, and motors are provided to users with motor impairments due to problems with cranial nerves. When wearing this equipment, it transmits a signal to the nerves that enables users with motor disabilities to write accurately and perform sophisticated work without trembling. Recently, we have developed a service that takes pictures of a scene and transmits them to the cloud and uses AI to explain the contents of the pictures with voice for the visually impaired. We are providing a new experience so that users who have never seen the situation unfolding before their eyes can feel what is happening in front of their eyes in real time.

As we have seen through various examples, Microsoft's mission and technology to enable everyone to achieve more in every space, combined with universal design, can greatly contribute to creating a world for all in the future.

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