Today, the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF) announced a new Human Interface Device (HID) standard for braille displays. Designed in a collaboration between Microsoft, Apple, and other tech companies, the new standard will make it easier to use a braille display, as developers of the peripherals won't need to develop custom software and drivers, so they'll just be plug-and-play.
According to Microsoft, the World Health Organization estimates that 253 million people worldwide have a visual impairment of some kind.
"Braille is the key to literacy, education, employment and success for blind people all over the world," said Mark Riccobono, president of the National Federation of the Blind. "An HID standard that allows the seamless integration of refreshable braille displays across devices will make it easier for braille readers to use this critical tool at home, at school, on the job or on the go. The National Federation of the Blind is proud to be a partner in collaboration across technology companies to make braille a game changing priority in the twenty-first century."
Accessibility has been a major topic for Microsoft lately, as it discussed at its Build 2018 developer conference that it needs to design for all of its customers, including those with any kind of disability, whether it be visual, audible, or something else. The firm introduced the AI for Accessibility program to open up some new possibilities for developers, and it even introduced a new Xbox controller that's designed for accessibility.
Microsoft's mission is to empower its customers to achieve more, a derivative of the firm's original goal to put a computer on every desk and in every home. Moving forward, you can certainly expect more news from the company to empower users with disabilities.