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12/14/2010
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Ed Hansberry
Ed Hansberry
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Microsoft Incompetent On Windows Phone 7 Accessibility

Windows Phone 7's accessibility support leaves a lot to be desired compared with its predecessor, Windows Mobile. Android and iPhone both have more accessibility features as well. Microsoft wants to fix it, but expect to wait a few years before support is what it should be.

Windows Phone 7's accessibility support leaves a lot to be desired compared with its predecessor, Windows Mobile. Android and iPhone both have more accessibility features as well. Microsoft wants to fix it, but expect to wait a few years before support is what it should be.Microsoft employees met with advocates for the blind and visually impaired to clarify what the new mobile platform could do and get feedback from the community. Microsoft isn't new to this at all. Windows on the desktop has long had a rich set of features and APIs that make PCs usable by the blind or visually impaired. Windows Mobile also has a number of features like support for Code Factory's Mobile Speak and Mobile Magnifier.

By comparison, Windows Phone 7's support seems rather lame. Microsoft list of accessibility features for Windows Phone 7 includes the ability to change themes, brightness adjustments and support for a hearing aid. None of those would do much for someone that is officially recognized as visually impaired.

Microsoft's President of the Mobile Communications Business fessed up and said "We were incompetent on this" according to AccessWorld.

So what is the fix? Well, there is nothing quick. The article said it could take up to two years for the features to be fully implemented. That means Windows Phone 7 will likely never get the features. In two years, Microsoft should have released Windows Phone 8 or maybe even 9 assuming it keeps the same naming scheme. One possibility is to continue to use Windows Mobile 6.5. Microsoft is supporting the older OS for a number of years for specific uses like industrial devices.

That isn't realistic for the average consumer, nor appealing. Both the iPhone and Android platform are available today with a wealth of accessibility support.

Maybe that meeting and the resultant press will spur Microsoft to step up its schedule

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