SPONSORED: Opening Doors Through Technology

Opening Doors Through Technology

TPG client Microsoft continues to provide advances in technology and open new opportunities for education and employment. We are proud to share an excerpt of Microsoft’s Accessibility blog post, “Inclusion in action: Jack shows students what’s possible with Office 365, a screen reader and a keyboard.”

Today, we meet Jack Mendez, an instructor at the Louisiana Center for the Blind. Jack shows his students the full power of technology and teaches them about the accessibility features and capabilities in Office 365 and Windows 10. Jack's story is part of the Inclusion in action series, highlighting how accessible technologies enable transformative change.

When a sighted person walks into Jack Mendez’s classroom, one of the first things they notice is a workstation without a screen. For Jack, this is a striking example how far assistive technology has advanced.

“I have a computer without a screen, and that’s intentional because I want people to understand that all you need is a keyboard and some headphones.” said Jack. “You can produce and consume content and use the computer and navigate just with the screen reader and your keyboard.”

As the director of Technology at the Louisiana Center for the Blind, Jack is in charge of the school’s IT systems and the software used to prepare students for life outside of school. When you enter his classroom, you discover a flurry of activity. Jack deployed Office 365 on all the school's workstations. "It's the best that’s out there. If you find something better, let me know.”

Students manage their calendars and access email through Outlook. They use OneNote to take notes and access them across multiple devices.

Jack is a big advocate for the use of Office 365 built-in accessibility checker to make content more inclusive. “It's just something that it makes sense to click on,” he said. “It takes a second, and a lot of times for most recommendations that the tool produces, it's like a five-second fix.”

If students want to know how to perform a task in Word, Excel, or PowerPoint, they use Office 365’s Tell Me feature and ask how it's done. The answers are quickly provided.

For Jack, these accessible technologies are a game changer for him and his students. "I can now open up Excel or PowerPoint or Word and I can produce content that someone across the world would look at and never know a blind person had a role in that production. It would be just as appealing, just as in-depth as anything else someone with no disabilities could have produced."

Jack says that students want to come to the school for technology classes because they see how productive you can be if you have good training and understand how the tools work.

“My hope for all of my students is that they're able to use technology to make their lives better. Many of them go on to college. A lot of them start working. Some of them already have careers and they're using this time to enhance their ability to be more independent at their current job.”

For more on stories of people pushing the boundaries of productivity and inclusion with Microsoft technologies, click here or visit aka.ms/InclusionInAction.

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