Tag Archives: celebrate

ADA Anniversary: The Continued Importance of Inclusion

By Jenny Lay-Flurrie, Chief Accessibility Officer

On July 26 we will celebrate the 28th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA stands as one of the most important pieces of civil rights legislation and prohibits discrimination while ensuring that people with disabilities have the same opportunities and rights as people without disabilities. It serves as a reminder of both where we have come from as well as the work left to be done.

Since its inception, the ADA has helped break down barriers for people with disabilities in built environments, provision of government services, communications, and employment. Despite a lot of great progress, after nearly 3 decades there is still much to be done, not only to level the playing field, but also to recognize (and seek out!) talented people with disabilities, skills and expertise that we need in our companies. The unemployment rate for people with disabilities hasn’t materially shifted in that time and remains nearly double that of people without disabilities. We are one of the many employers that has the power to influence that number. We take that responsibility seriously. Here are three things we are doing to drive it:

Breaking Down Barriers Through Technology
It’s never been more important to have a diverse and inclusive workforce including people with disabilities. Put simply, it helps us create better products that empower people with disabilities. When accessibility is done well, it becomes invaluable to daily life, the workplace, and play. It’s ubiquitous and easy to use. These values guide us, and I urge you to check out the following:

  • Accessibility built in by design. There is a wealth of goodness built into the core of our products – from Windows to Office and Xbox. Learning Tools, Dictate, Narrator, Translator, Color Blindness Filters, and more. We’ve created a simple one-stop-shop with our Accessibility Feature Sway which has every feature broken down by disability type and we update this and our new website www.microsoft.com/accessibility as new features become available. Do check it out and share!
  • If in doubt, ask. Remember we have a dedicated support team for people with disabilities using Microsoft products, or using accessibility features. The Disability Answer Desk is there 24×7, via chat, phone and in the USA, a dedicated ASL video line. Now in 11 markets and ready to help you get going with your technology
  • Your feedback is gold dust. We want to know what future you want, and technology you want to empower you. Tell us via our Accessibility UserVoice, Disability Answer Desk or tweet @MSFTEnable. Your feedback powers us.
  • The power of innovation. AI is opening doors for innovation for people with disabilities. Invaluable tools like Seeing AI, Microsoft Translator, and Helpicto are built leveraging our vision, knowledge and speech Cognitive Services APIs and so we were excited earlier this year to announce the AI for Accessibility program to open up these technologies to you to create. The application process is now open, and first batch of grant applications are in mid review. Literally can’t wait to see what you come up with!

Creating Forums for Inclusion
It isn’t enough to just talk about inclusion, we need to partner together to drive impact. There are many events we host and attend where this happens, but two have highlighted the appetite for more:

  • Microsoft Ability Summit. For the first time ever, we opened the doors to this internal event to the public and we were humbled by the results. Over the 8 years since we started the Ability Summit, attendance has grown from just 80 people in that first year, to 1,200 Microsoft employees, and 1,200 external guests over the two days. At the event, we demonstrated the latest in accessible technologies and attendees connected with the owners and drivers of those technologies. They also had the opportunity to engage with over 20 companies at an inclusive hiring job fair and heard from our very own CVP of Retail Stores, a panel of dignitaries and CEO Satya Nadella, who shared their thoughts on accessibility and disability. We were honored to include former Senator Tom Harkin who introduced the ADA into the Senate back in 1989 and underscored the need to break down barriers to get people with disabilities into the workforce. It’s our hope that by opening the event up more broadly we can share knowledge and accelerate the process for all organizations to build their programs, hire amazing talent, and reduce the unemployment rate.
A group of people sitting on stage

Creating a Region of Inclusion panel discussion at the 2018 Microsoft Ability Summit.

  • Disability:IN. Just last week in Las Vegas, 1,500 folks from over 160 corporate partners came together to discuss, share and take action on disability inclusion. Disability:IN (previously known as USBLN) is a corporate based NGO, Microsoft is a proud sponsor, and I’m a honoured to be chair of the board of directors. This organization has grown in numbers and strength in the past years and it speaks to the need, appetite and desire from so many companies to not only understand but drive the future of disability inclusion. During this event, over 130 rising leaders met with company leaders and many walked away with jobs and intern positions. We celebrated those that have achieved high scores on the Disability Employment Initiative (DEI), with many achieving 100% including ourselves. Also, technology was a HOT topic, and we dedicated one of the opening plenaries to showing and sharing the latest in accessible inclusive technology – and I had a blast showing Office 365, PowerPoint, Translator, PowerPoint Designer, Auto Alt-Text, Seeing AI and Xbox Adaptive Controller live on stage. It was clear from the room, amazing speakers and companies sharing their journeys, that this is a priority across corporate America, and how we partner together has never been more important.

Supporting Inclusion in Action
Perhaps one of the best examples of making inclusion real is the Special Olympics. This year Microsoft was proud to be the Presenting Sponsor of the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games here in Seattle. With the theme “Rise with Us,” athletes challenged Seattle to make the 2018 games the most inclusive Special Olympics to date and honourary Chair Brad Smith, set the tone – asking Seattle to create a legacy of inclusion that lasts long after the games finish. As part of the event a job fair was held for athletes that included 16 companies including Microsoft. With 4,000 athletes and more than 12,000 volunteers (including 2,000+ Microsoft employees!) participating in the event, we are creating a legacy of inclusion in the region and a galvanizing force epitomized by local athlete Frannie Ronan – the youngest athlete in the games at just 8 years old who inspired us all at the opening ceremony and walked out with 2 silvers and 2 bronzes and a very big smile.

A big crowd of people in a field.

Opening ceremonies of the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games in Seattle

A woman and a child smiling

Jenny Lay-Flurrie with Frannie Ronan at the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games in Seattle

In addition to celebrating the ADA, we recognize individuals and organizations all over the world are developing disability rights policies and programs under the United Nation Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities and helping their communities raise awareness of the importance of accessibility and need for an inclusive culture. To make real progress, it will take collaboration from across government, industry, employers and individuals with disabilities to realize the vision of the ADA and reduce the unemployment rate for people with disabilities everywhere.

In the meantime, do explore what technology can do for you through the power of accessibility, keep us grounded in what you want to see going forward, and get involved in forums and supporting these incredible organisations that are going to power the future of disability inclusion.

Xbox One X Launch Events from Around the World

This week, across the world, fans flocked to special Xbox events to celebrate the highly-anticipated launch of Xbox One X. Launch festivities were captured in a live broadcast from the Mixer NYC Studio on Mixer, Xbox.com, Twitch and Facebook Live. There are some highlights below, but you can grab all of the photos from each event in the Media Assets section.

Sydney, Australia

The Xbox Stay N’ Play was open to the public from November 3 – 5, featuring four gaming-themed suites and a free-play lobby area.

The Xbox Stay N’ Play, a boutique, gaming-themed experience, situated in front of the iconic Sydney skyline in Pirrama Park.

The Xbox Stay N’ Play, a boutique, gaming-themed experience, situated in front of the iconic Sydney Waterfront.

Munich, Germany

#XXLUnboxing of Xbox One X at Munich Airport in Germany.

World’s Largest Xbox Controller Looms Large in Munich Airport in Germany

Xbox Germany Recieves Record for World’s Biggest Unboxing

Hong Kong

Hundreds of Gamers Attended the Launch Party to Pick Up Their Consoles and Share Gaming Sessions with Local Celebrities and F1 Stars.

Local Celebrity Kelly Cheung Took Forza Motorsports 7 For a Spin with Fans.

Hong Kong’s Launch Party in Mong Kok, One of the Busiest Shopping Districts in HK

Taiwan

Taiwanese gamers take their place in the queue to be one of the first to take home Xbox One X!

Excited fans join launch celebrations at Xbox Taiwan’s Pop-up Store in Taipei.

Italy

Tech influencer Andrea Galeazzi takes a selfie with his fans after talking about Xbox One.

Fans get ready to welcome Xbox One X at Microsoft House in Milan, Italy.

Mexico

Excited Fans Line Up for the Midnight Launch of Xbox One X in Mexico.

Gamer Receives Her Xbox One X Console at the Midnight Launch of Xbox One X in Mexico.

France

The Xbox Bus Passes the Arc de Triomphe en route to the Launch of Xbox One X in Paris.

Xbox bus

Excited Fans In Line for Midnight Launch of Xbox One X in France

The Xbox Bus Passes the Eiffel Tower en Route to the French Launch of Xbox One X.

New York City

Liam Payne celebrates the best games of the past, present and future at the Xbox One X launch celebration at the flagship Microsoft Store on Fifth Avenue on Tuesday, Nov. 7th, 2017, in New York City.

Shaquille “Shaq” O’Neal at the Xbox One X launch celebration in the flagship Microsoft Store on Fifth Avenue on Tuesday, Nov. 7th, 2017, in New York City.

Bellevue, WA

Cristian Roldan of Seattle Sounders FC interacts with a fan at the launch of Xbox One X at Microsoft Store at Bellevue Square Mall on Monday, Nov. 6, 2017.

Cliff Avril of Seattle Seahawks and Mike Ybarra, Corporate Vice President of Platform Engineering at Microsoft, at the launch of Xbox One X at Microsoft Store at Bellevue Square Mall on Monday, Nov. 6, 2017.

Join MINECON Earth Viewing Parties at Microsoft Store!

MINECON Earth, a livestreamed, interactive showcase of all things Minecraft, is on the horizon, and to celebrate, we’re inviting the Minecraft community to join us and watch this one-of-a-kind event at Microsoft Store viewing parties across the U.S., Puerto Rico and Canada. Also, for those of you in Atlanta, we’ll be hosting a pair of Build Battle competitions in early November, with winners taking home tickets to MINECON Earth itself!

MINECON Earth Viewing Parties – Coming to a Microsoft Store Near You

Viewing parties will take place across Microsoft Store locations on Saturday, November 18 at 9:00 a.m. PST. Visit our MINECON viewing party page to get more information and find the location closest to you. Attendees will be admitted 30 minutes prior to the broadcast start time, so come early to ensure you get a seat!

In addition to taking in the show itself, attendees can participate in costume contests, giveaways and competitive and collaborative gameplay with other members of the Minecraft community. Watching the MINECON Earth festivities with local Minecraft players is sure to be a blast, and we hope you’ll join us!

Microsoft Store locations will also host some Minecraft content creators, YouTubers and streamers you may be familiar with! They’ll be taking a break from creating videos and streams to experience the MINECON Earth stream as spectators, along with the rest of the Minecraft community. They’ll be hanging out with attendees at the following locations:

  • Flagship Microsoft Store in New York: Thinknoodles
  • Microsoft Store at Lenox Square Mall (Atlanta, GA): xNestorio, Tylarzz
  • Microsoft Store at SouthPark (Charlotte, NC): CavemanFilms, BlackieChan, Guude
  • Microsoft Store at Prudential Center (Boston, MA): Carnage The Creator, AntVenom
  • Microsoft Store at NorthPark Center (Dallas, TX): Jojopetv, AviatorGaming, RyguyRocky, MeganPlays, BurtDude, BAHMLounge
  • Microsoft Store at The Florida Mall (Orlando, FL): FireRockerz Studios
  • Microsoft Store at Oakbrook Center (Oak Brook, IL): Aureylian, MangoTango

Throw Down in Build Battle to Win Tickets to MINECON Earth

If you’re in the Atlanta area, you can join us in the leadup to MINECON for our Minecraft Build Battle competitions, where the winning team will walk away with tickets to the MINECON Earth show on November 18! Players will be tasked with projects revolving around a series of fun Minecraft themes, so imagination and quick thinking are a must. Like the MINECON Earth viewing parties, these events are great for meeting up with other local players (and putting your building skills to the test).

Players will have to successfully navigate three different Build Battle challenges, with the team that wins each challenge receiving points. At the end of the three challenges, each member of the team with the most total points will win two tickets to MINECON Earth apiece! Even if you aren’t competing, you still have a chance to win tickets, so come cheer on your favorite team and get entered to win a pair of tickets to the MINECON Earth show!

The Build Battles will take place on Friday, November 3 from 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. EST at the Microsoft Store at Lenox Square and Saturday, November 4 from 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. EST at the Microsoft Store at Perimeter Mall. Players can begin registering for the Build Battle outside each Microsoft Store location one hour prior to the start of the events.

We can’t wait to see the Minecraft community’s passion, talent and creativity at Build Battle and the MINECON Earth viewing parties. See you there!

Flagship Microsoft Store planned for Regent Street in London – The Official Microsoft Blog

Crowd outside Microsoft Store on Fifth Avenue in New York City
Fans celebrate the grand opening of the flagship Microsoft Store on Fifth Avenue in New York City.

Today, we are pleased to announce plans to open a flagship store in London on Regent Street at Oxford Circus. This is one of the world’s most exciting shopping destinations and represents another step in our journey to meet our customers.

The United Kingdom is home to some of our most passionate fans. We already enjoy connecting through our partners and in our digital stores, and look forward to bringing a physical store to the region as another great choice for customers to experience the best technology from Microsoft.

Investing in more solutions for customers
We are proud to see the impact that our physical stores have on the communities where we operate, from greater confidence in customers who visit in person and then shop online, to our partner ecosystem. Our customer experience in our physical stores generates confidence and trust in our products and services.

Cindy Rose, head of Microsoft in the U.K. and our partner throughout the location selection process, says: “We couldn’t be happier to be opening a flagship store in the heart of central London at Oxford Circus, where two of the world’s most iconic shopping streets meet. We know our customers and fans, whether they are from London, the broader U.K. or just visiting, will love our bold plans for the space. This will be so much more than just a great place to experience all that is possible with Microsoft, but a real hub for the community where we’ll be bringing to life our passion for helping people explore their creativity through an ambitious program of workshops and training along with moments that work to unite the community.”

Connecting one customer at a time
Digital skills are critical in today’s world as the speed and pace of technological innovation accelerates. Microsoft Stores offer free workshops and digital training programs integrated into our daily store schedule so that students, entrepreneurs, educators, families and creators can succeed in the modern workplace. We regularly host opportunities for our customers to discover and learn through science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education programs, including YouthSpark camps where can learn about computer science, take Minecraft coding classes, leverage LinkedIn for business, and participate in Xbox game design sessions.

Microsoft Store is a place to have fun! Our stores are hubs for local gaming communities, where fans gather to play their favorite games like “FIFA” or “Forza” during events or in one of the competitive tournaments in our Mixer NYC Studio. We are excited to extend similar experiences to our customers in London.

Creating opportunity with the local community
Our approach to retail is simple — a complete and quality experience for our customers to interact directly with Microsoft. We enter markets with the goal of strengthening the experience, creating more career opportunities, and contributing to the local community and entire region. We have seen this executed in our flagship locations in New York and Sydney — some of my favorite examples include seeing U.N. Youth Advocates gathered in our store to share their projects and ideas for empowering people in their own cities, towns and villages, or when students joined us from Regional New South Wales to participate in coding and Minecraft events.

Our store stands for the best of Microsoft. We are excited to showcase gaming, mixed reality, AI (artificial intelligence), and all technology that empowers people to achieve more. Look for more details in the future!

Tags: London, Microsoft Stores, minecraft, XBOX, YouthSpark

Play Madden NFL 18 at Microsoft Store for a Chance to Win Super Bowl LII Tickets

Football and Madden fans rejoice! Madden NFL 18 is launching this week, and to celebrate, Microsoft Store is hosting a special event at the flagship Microsoft Store in New York, holding launch day tournaments and kicking off a national community tournament series that runs throughout the year.

The launch day tournament offers an opportunity to test your Madden skills for a chance to win some great prizes. This tournament also kicks off the Madden NFL 18 community series, where you compete head to head against local Madden players across the United States, and select cities in Canada, throughout the year.  Winners have a chance to play in the grand finals for the ultimate prize, tickets to Super Bowl LII. Join us on launch day to play, watch or just meet Madden fans at your local Microsoft Store. Tournaments begin on August 24 and run weekly through the football season. Visit the Microsoft Store Facebook event page for details.

New York Giants fans gearing up for the launch and game season will have the opportunity to meet New York Giants players Landon Collins and Sterling Shepard at the flagship Microsoft Store in New York City on August 24 at 7:30 p.m. ET (line opens at 6:30 p.m. ET). Then, watch the pro athletes compete on the virtual field in Madden NFL 18 from the Mixer NYC Studio, where the winner will receive a $5,000 donation to the charity of their choice. Be one of the first 16 fans in line to compete in the Madden NFL 18 community series and you’ll have the chance to play LIVE from the Mixer NYC Studio, which will also be livestreamed on Mixer.com/MicrosoftStore.

This is Madden like you’ve never seen it. Powered by the Frostbite engine, Madden NFL 18 introduces Longshot, a football redemption story you can play. Your decisions lead forgotten prospect Devin Wade on the pursuit to fulfill his NFL dream in the first ever Madden story mode.

Don’t miss out on the action – join your local Microsoft Store to play the new Madden NFL 18 starting this week! Visit https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/store/locations/madden-nfl-18 to learn more and find a store near you. Tournament rules require participants to be 13 years of age, and minors (13-17) must have the permission of their parent or legal guardian to enter.