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Microsoft Again creates New Accessibility Problems With Internet Explorer 7 and Windows Vista

26 October, 2006 by Peter Verhoeven

Microsoft claims, that Windows Vista will be the most accessible Windows operating system

Microsoft also said, that every product leaving the company is checked by the Microsoft

Accessibility Technology Group (ATG) for accessiblity.
But the truth is, that Microsft does less to make Windows more accessible and that all

current releases of screen magnifiers and screen readers will not work well with Internet

Explorer 7 and Windows Vista.

Because of the growing group of elderly baby boomers in Europe and the USA, also the group

of people having problems accessing their computer without the help of special products is


There is a growing call by organizations for legislation on this issue.
In such legislation not the society is paying the bill for creating accessiblity problems by

general tax, but the companies that are creating those accessiblity problems.
You can compare this with the legislation regarding environment ppolution. The polluter is

paying the cost, instead of the society.

Visually impaired are highly dependent from Microsoft, because of their leading operating

system Windows. In most copanies, schools and organizations Windows is used as operating

software. Visually impaired who want to participate in society by working for a company as

employee, visiting a school as a student or simply want to be informed through the Internet,

are dependent from Microsoft.

Visually impaired use screen readers, screen magnifiers, braille displays and text-to-speech

software to access Microsoft Windows. These products come from specialist companies and the

prices for such products are very high for the visually impaired using them. In a lot of

countries the cost of these expensive products are paid through social security. In practise

this money comes from every individual paying tax.

To let these special products work well with Windows and Windows related software like

Internet Explorer or Microsoft Word, also causes a lot of problem. If Microsoft launches a

new Windows version, screen readers and magnifiers often do not work at all and society has

to pay again for Microsoft's lack of accessiblity.

Microsoft has an Accessibility Technology Group (ATG), that should help third party

companies making screen readers and screen magnifiers work well on Windows and checking

Microsoft products to be accessible.
Companies in the Adaptive Technology industry, that is how these special companies are

mentioned, are highly dependent from the ATG. In screen magnifier and reader release

annoucement you always can read special thanks to Microsoft. If you know people working in

the adaptive technology industry and drink a glass of beer with them, you hear something

completely different.

As editor for I never get replies on questions to ATG. The only thing I ever

heard of them, was asking to remove some quotes from If I didn't remove

those critical quotes, they didn't want to speak with me.

If you do a search on Goolle on Vista Accessiblity, you get more than 4 million results. If

you do a search for Windows accessibility you get more than 21 millon results.
Most of the 4 millon results on Vista accessiblity, are Microsoft promotion campaigns.

Microsoft claims, that Windows Vista is the most accessible Windows release ever. They can

not claim that it is the most accessible operating system, because Aplle's Macintosh Tiger

OS by default includes a full screen magnifier and a full featured screen reader.
Also in Open source Linux environment screen reader and screen magnifier features will be


The difference between 4 million matches on "Vista accessiblity" and 21 million matches on

"Windows accessibility" are the 17 million accessiblity problems remaining in Windows and

related software.
Instead of improving accessibility in Windows Vista, Microsoft started a campaign to let

society and the media believe, that Windows Vista is the most accessible Windows ever.

Why do I not find a screen reader in Windows Vista, Why can I not find a full screen

magnifier in Windows? Why can I not plugin my braille keyboard in Windows Vista, without

first upgrading special software?
Why have all those millions visually impaired first upgrade their special screen reader and

magnifier software for millions of dollars, before they can access Windows Vista? Is that

what Microsft means by "The Most Accessible Windows ever"???

Why did they invest all that campaign money in missleading public opinion, instead of making

Windows Vista realy accessible? That is because Windows is realy difficult to make

accessible. Visually impaired now can access only a limit number of programs. Most programs

are inaccessible for screen readers now. If Microsoft has to make all that software

accessible they realy have to do a hard job. It is easier to misslead the public opinion and

hoping, that decision makers in legislation believe them.

In fact there are no new accessibilty features in Windows Vista. Only names are changed.

Accessibility options is now Access center. This because a three year study of Microsoft

researh finds, that people do not like to be labeled as disabled.
The simple magnifier, unusable for most visually impaired people, was already there in

Windows 98. Narrator was also available in Windows 2000 and XP and only in a limit number of


Evidence of the above is the release of Internet Explorer 7. No existing screen reader and

screen magnifier will woork properly with it. Speech will stop in most screen readers or

never starts. Special reading options in screen reader and magnifier software, will not


Visually impaired who want access to Internet Explorer 7, have to upgrade their screen

reader or magnifier software. People with older versions of the screen reader and magnifier

software, have to upgrade to the latest release. Who is paying for this? Is Microsft going

to offer visually impaired free upgrades, or are it the individual visually impaired and

society that have to pay for Microsoft's lack of attention to accessiblity?

And what if people are upgrading now to the latest release of their screen magnifier and

screen reader software. If they want access to Windows Vista, they have to upgrade again,

because their software shall not work on Windows Vista!

Microsoft is planning to ditribute Internet Explorer 7 in the november automatic Widnows

update. If users of screen magnifiers and readers are installing these automatic updates,

they will find their screen reader and magnifier incompatible with Internet Explorer.

I asked the ATG about it, but because they don't find accessibility an important issue, they

didn't reply to me.
I think in some weeks you can read in the media how accessible Internet Explorer 7 is. Sites

like only quote what Microsft want them to quote.

I never see a question from those editors in the magnifier list, where hundreds of screen magnifier users participate and fight for more accessiblity.

Peter Verhoeven

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