During the unveiling of Microsoft's latest Surface devices back in September of this year, the company also took up an accessibility challenge by offering its new Surface Adaptive Kit.
With all the air in the room taken up by a redesigned Surface Pro, a new form factor Surface Laptop and a sequel to Microsoft's questionable reemergence in the smartphone market, it was easy to lose sight of the company's least expensive and perhaps most impactful offering that day.
However, Microsoft is now officially launching its Surface Adaptive Kit which is a collaborative effort between the company's Inclusive Tech Lab and the disability community at large through Open Style Labs to help customers with low vision, Cerebral Palsy, and other accessibility concerns manage their devices.
“We knew that some customers with disabilities were already augmenting their Surface devices to make it easier for them to use. Ultimately, we believed those augmentations should not only empower our customers to be more productive but be premium like their Surface. The feedback from the participants of the Inclusive Design Sprint enabled us to identify some of the shared challenges customers experienced when interacting with their devices, and those became the foundational pillars for the Surface Adaptive Kit,” said Bryce Johnson, Sr. UX Researcher for Accessibility. “As with our work on the Xbox Adaptive Controller, we believe in ‘Nothing About Us, Without Us’, so designing the kit in partnership with the disability community was very important.”
The Surface Adaptive Kit is $13.49 and comes with
- Bump labels: These come in four shapes and colors, for a total of 16 labels. Shape variations are a solid dot, an open circle, a dash line, and an X. Each shape variation is available in green, orange, blue, and gray. The labels can be applied anywhere to help customers identify features such as buttons, keys, ports, etc.
- Keycap labels: designed to help customers identify the keys on the keyboard. The labels are transparent with a raised feature on them.
- Port labels: These are designed to help identify and match cables and ports on the customer's device. There are five different port label pairs, for 10 total labels. Each pair is a different color and has a different tactile design so they can be identified visually and by touch.
- Opening support: There are two opener supports tools included. The first support has a larger loop, designed to assist in opening a laptop lid. The second support has a flexible section in the middle where you can attach a lanyard or wrist strap.
As I mentioned, the Kit was the least expensive thing on display back in September, but for anyone, especially those with disabilities, it may be the most impactful addition to Microsoft's lineup going forward, and it's available just in time for a very thoughtful stocking stuffer.