Microsoft opens Inclusive Tech Lab, announces new adaptive accessories

Tuesday's announcement shows that making software and hardware easier to use for all types of people is a priority at Microsoft.
Written by Jason Cipriani, Contributing Writer
Image: Microsoft

Microsoft on Tuesday announced several new accessibility initiatives at the company during the Microsoft Ability Summit

The first announcement Microsoft made is that the company now has a dedicated Inclusive Tech Lab, where Microsoft will continue to work on and develop new accessibility features for all types of disabilities. 

Windows 11 is getting more accessibility features, some of which are currently available for those testing upcoming Windows 11 releases through the Insiders program. New features include improvements to the Focus feature with a timer, live captions for any audio being played (during a Zoom or Teams call, for example), along with better voice access and a more natural narrator voice. 

Image: Microsoft

Joining the Xbox Adaptive Controller and the Surface Adaptive Kit is several new pieces of hardware, all of which will launch this fall. There's an Adaptive Mouse that is fully customizable, with a removable tail and thumb support. There's also an Adaptive Hub that wirelessly connects to the new Adaptive Buttons and has three different profiles based on the device you're using it with. The Adaptive Buttons offer a myriad of setups. For example, you can attach a dual button accessory to it or a joystick depending on your needs. 

What do you think about Microsoft's announcements today? Let us know in the comments below. 

I think the biggest aspect of the new hardware is that you can 3D print different accessories and connect them to the mouse or the buttons, allowing you to further customize the Adaptive devices. Whether it's a button or joystick, Microsoft designs and publishes the necessary files, or someone else creates an entirely new accessory that fits your needs -- the ability to build off of an existing product at a fraction of the cost that the adaptors and accessories typically would cost is huge. Granted, you'll need to have access to a 3D printer.

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