Ballmer backtracks on the blind with Windows Phone 7

Software Imperium Microsoft has admitted cocking up and forgetting that blind people will not be able to use its Windows Phone 7 gear.

While we would have thought that the Imperium would be rushing around trying to find any customers at all, senior Microsoft officials have admitted that Windows Phone 7 (WP7), does not include the accessibility components for those with poor eyesight.

It is not that the software hadn’t been invented. Under the reign of Bill Gates Microsoft had lots of useful settings for the impaired.

To make sure that the blind can’t buy any third party add-ons, Redmond has made sure the devices are not compatible with any third-party screen-access technologies.

Andy Lees, president of Microsoft’s Mobile Communications Business, told AFB that he was responsible.  It was not intentional, just a dreadful cock-up.

“We were incompetent on this,” he confessed.

Part of the problem was that Redmond forgot to talk to advocates and assistive technology developers regarding the problems with WP7.

Lees said the Imperium would fix the problem but it will “take several years”.

It all started when Redmond decided that no applications from earlier Microsoft mobile operating systems will run on WP7.

By doing a “hard reset” on WP7 Redmond made sure that it could control over the specific features and functions that will be built into the phones. It learned this technique from Steve Jobs.

The idea was to pitch the WP7 between the autocratic iPhone model and the anarchic Android.

The only problem was that the system was too autocratic for third parties to make up for the Imperium’s mistake and Redmond had not developed the software itself.

Lees said it would be a plan to develop Windows Phone into a compelling option for people who are blind or visually impaired.

On the drawing board was a plan to expand use of speech functionality for better eyes-free phone use and technology to enable screenreading functionality, specifically tailored to the one-of-a-kind Windows Phone interface.

Microsoft promised to incorporate more users who are blind or visually impaired into the design process, although we would have thought given the current situation it would be a classic case of the blind leading the blind.