Microsoft Australia today announced its biggest ever software donation in the country, by granting $6.6 million to the charity Vision Australia to help blindness and low vision suffers better access online information.
The software giant’s grant will help 300,000 blind or vision impaired Australians, by giving Vision Australia the chance to improve the support services it provides.
The charity plans to upgrade its IT systems, to enable better staff collaboration, fundraising efforts, and improvement to its overall operational capability.
Microsoft Australia’s director of corporate affairs, John Galligan, said the relationship between Microsoft and Vision Australia is aiming to abolish the limited access that the blind and low vision sufferers have to online information.
“Imagine only having limited or no access at all to written information,” Galligan said. “Advances in technology combined with the efforts of organisations like Vision Australia mean we are well on the way to making this a thing of the past for people who are blind or who have low vision.”
The Microsoft technology upgrades will help create accessible online communities, similar to social networking tool Facebook, which will in turn help Vision Australia clients overcome social isolation and loneliness.
The development of the world’s largest digitally accessible library is also on the cards. According to Vision Australia, less than 5 per cent of published information is currently available in formats that can be read by vision impaired people.
Vision Australia is also taking on an advisory role, by helping Microsoft make its products more user-friendly for the vision impaired.
Microsoft’s support for Vision Australia is part of its Unlimited Potential (UP) program.