Tag Archives: parents

Shin’s story: Using technology to break down the barriers of disability in Japan – Asia News Center

Shin’s journey hasn’t been an easy one, but thanks to his parents lobbying a local education board – which once suggested Shin go to a special needs school – he has always been studying at regular schools.

Since elementary school, he studied with the help of computer software, such as Microsoft Word and OneNote. He uses a small, special mouse to draw graphs.

“By using Windows’ on-screen keyboard and moving the mouse, I can use my PC for study and communicating with my friends,” he explained.

Since 2013, Microsoft has assisted his learning, including preparation for the tough university entrance exam, by providing IT tools, such as the on-screen keyboard and a cursor control system that uses eye movements.

Shin is now trialing a new eye tracking software that enables him to move the mouse cursor with his eyes

“I have faced lots of challenges like everyone else, but we often need help too,” Shin said. “I’m currently trialing the new eye tracking software that enables me to move the mouse cursor with my eyes. This is one more example of how technology will help people like me work more efficiently.”

“My dream is that one day these kinds of functions will not be listed under accessibility but will be an integral part of how we all work to make a better future,” he added.

In 2016, Shin successfully passed the entrance exam for Tokyo University after spending a year at a preparatory school together with other students who aimed to enter the country’s competitive universities.

Now as a university student, Shin continues to study on his electric stretcher with assistance and support from helpers and the school. Since April this year, he lives on his own with assistance when he needs to move.

The entrance exam for Tokyo University is one of Japan’s most competitive assessments. Before the exams, Shin submitted a request to the exam authority, the National Center for University Entrance Examinations, notifying them that his physical condition required more attention.

During the exam, Shin sat in a separate room with more time to take the paper, and was assigned an assistant to write down his answers. Shin was also allowed to use a computer, especially when an answer required a graph.

Shin’s favorite quote by Friedrich Nietzsche, the philosopher he admires, is “Man is something that shall be overcome.” The feisty student is often led by these words when reflecting his own physical disability.

Shin, now 21, studies Western Philosophy at Tokyo University

“I believe that we need a new inclusive philosophical framework because technology is now empowering people to become independent beyond any physical barriers,” he says.

Learning from those with disabilities to improve their opportunities

One of those working with people with disabilities, such as Shin, is Microsoft Japan employee Tomoko Ohshima.

Gathering their comments, requests and feedback, she passes those to the tech giant’s developers to create tools to help people with disabilities.

Ohshima was encouraged to take on this project by Microsoft Japan some ten years ago, inspired by her interactions with a colleague, a programmer who is blind. “Technology is so helpful for people!” she says.

Meanwhile, Japan’s entrance exam system is also improving to accommodate students with various disabilities. A consensus has been established to allow students with disabilities to use tools approved by the authorities, such as computers, and to extend the test time depending on each student’s condition. Ohshima’s commitment of the last ten years coincides with this improvement, and has allowed her to witness the transition.

Challenges still remain for students with disabilities. For example, having a computer read out exam questions is rarely permitted in Japan. Instead, a reader is assigned to read the questions aloud for the examinee. This does not always work well for the students –– some students might want to read important parts more slowly, and others might want to have questions read out repeatedly to better understand them.

One of the reasons computer reading has not been approved is because examiners need to create extra exam papers by digitalizing them. This may be avoidable with optical character recognition (OCR).

“We are willing to provide any useful help and technology to create a society in which anyone can have the opportunity to take the entrance exams and be judged fairly regardless of one’s physical condition,” says Ohshima.


To read more about Microsoft Philanthropies’ work to build future ready generations in Asia, click here.

New Microsoft study: Parents have the greatest impact on young people’s safety online – Microsoft on the Issues

Adults and teens around the world overwhelmingly view parents as the most trusted and most responsible group for keeping children and teens safe online, preliminary results of a new Microsoft study show.

Nearly one-third (29 percent) of respondents said parents are the most trusted, and one in five considered parents to be the most responsible for ensuring the safety of individuals and families online. Software companies scored 9 percent on trust and 7 percent on responsibility ahead of teachers (2 percent and 1 percent, respectively) and local government (3 percent on both categories), but lower than internet service providers, social media companies and national governments.

Results are from the latest research associated with Microsoft’s work in digital civility — encouraging safer and healthier online interactions among all individuals and communities. The study, “Civility, Safety and Interaction Online — 2017,” polled teens ages 13-17 and adults ages 18-74 in 23 countries[1] about 20 online risks. The 2017 research builds on a similar study conducted in 2016 that polled the same age groups in 14 countries about 17 forms of online abuse. In 2017, there were 11,584 teens and adults polled in total.

Council for Digital Good shared its perspective on parents’ role in online safety

A straw poll among Microsoft’s teen Council for Digital Good during the Council summit last month echoed these results. Of the 15 council members, along with parents and chaperones, 23 voted parents to be the most responsible for young people’s online safety, while three cited teachers and three others pointed to technology companies generally.

“Parents who feel overwhelmed by the technology gulf between what they understand and what their kids have already mastered may be tempted to opt out of involvement in their kids’ digital lives,” said Sarah Siegand, mother of one of our Council for Digital Good members and co-founder of the online safety campaign Parents Who Fight. “Yet, the data shows that parents who simply engage in regular conversation with their kids about their online activity have a massive impact on their kids’ understanding of digital civility and responsibility.”

New countries, new data

The countries added to the 2017 Microsoft study are Argentina, Colombia, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Peru and Vietnam. This year, respondents were also asked about additional risks, namely hoaxes, scams and fraud (as a single collective online risk), as well as micro-aggressions and misogyny. (Microaggressions are defined as casual insults made toward any marginalized group in society, such as religious or ethnic minorities, women, LGBT and people with disabilities.)

Final results will be made available on Safer Internet Day 2018, along with a year-over-year look at the Microsoft Digital Civility Index. The inaugural 14-country index, released on Safer Internet Day 2017, represents the lifetime exposure of respondents in each country to the 17 original online risks. We have again grouped the 20 risks into four categories:

  • Reputational – “Doxing” and damage to personal or professional reputations
  • Behavioral – Being treated meanly; experiencing trolling, online harassment or bullying; encountering hate speech and microaggressions
  • Sexual – Sending or receiving unwanted sext messages and making sexual solicitations; being a victim of sextortion or non-consensual pornography (aka “revenge porn”), and
  • Personal / Intrusive – Being the target of unwanted contact, experiencing discrimination, “swatting” (deceiving emergency services like police, fire or medical into sending an emergency response, typically to a person’s home, based on a false report of an ongoing critical incident or crime), misogyny, exposure to extremist content/recruiting, or falling victim to hoaxes, scams or fraud.

Back to school, back to online safety basics

We’re making this preliminary release in the back-to-school time frame to remind parents, educators and young people about the need for smart, safe and respectful online habits and practices at home, at school and on the go. For instance, in addition to strengthening your device’s defenses, keeping personal information private and safeguarding online reputations, consider re-committing to Microsoft’s Digital Civility Challenge by:

  • Treating others as you would like to be treated, acting with empathy, compassion, and kindness in every interaction, and affording everyone respect and dignity.
  • Respecting differences, honoring diverse perspectives and, when disagreements surface, engaging thoughtfully and avoiding name-calling and personal attacks.
  • Pause before replying to contrary comments and refraining from posting or sending anything that could hurt someone, damage a reputation or threaten someone’s safety.
  • Standing up for oneself and others by supporting those who are targets of online abuse or cruelty, reporting activity that threatens anyone’s safety and preserving evidence of inappropriate or unsafe behavior.

We will follow with another early look at some other key research findings in the weeks ahead. In the meantime, to learn more about online safety generally, visit our website and review our resources; “like” us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

[1] Countries surveyed: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, China, Colombia, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Russia, South Africa, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States and Vietnam.

Tags: Online Safety