Microsoft has unveiled a new line of adaptive accessories to help people with disabilities who struggle with the typical keyboard and mouse layout.
Announced when Capability Summit 2022, the new devices are Microsoft Adaptive Mouse, Adaptive Button and Adaptive Hub. Each was designed in close collaboration with community members to create the best possible products that make it easier for people with disabilities to use apps.
The adaptive mouse is made up of three individual parts: a central core, a thumb rest and a mouse tail. The last two are accessories that can be attached to the core in order to meet the needs of the user. For example, larger handles can be attached to the core for an easier grip and will work equally well for lefties and righties.
The Core functions as a standalone mouse and can be connected to up to three other devices wirelessly or via USB. It also works with custom 3D printed tails in case one of the initial pieces doesn’t work for you.
The adaptive button and the hub can be used together as an alternative keyboard. You can program up to eight different inputs to the button, from keystrokes to macros. The button top can be removed and replaced with something different.
Besides the base top, you can switch between a D-pad, joystick, or dual button setup. And if those don’t work for you, the adaptive button supports custom 3D printed tops, just like the mouse.
And the adaptive hub can connect up to four individual adaptive buttons wirelessly and has three different profiles for different devices. The Hub also has multiple 3.5mm inputs so you can connect wired accessories.
The range will launch in fall 2022, however, no pricing has been revealed. You can join a messaging group for more information closer to the exit.
Analysis: Microsoft is paving the way for greater accessibility
In recent years, Microsoft has expanded its catalog of accessible devices and software to help people with various types of disabilities.
For example, in 2018, Microsoft released the Xbox Adaptive Controller to give people with reduced mobility a way to play video games they would otherwise be blocked from.
The controller is rather expensive though with a price tag of $99.99 and so on risk of being prohibitive for many members of the disability community. Microsoft’s new Adaptive Accessories follow the company’s earlier work with last year’s Surface Adaptive Kit and appear to be a more affordable option.
Many companies have started to take accessibility much more seriously, and Microsoft has led that charge and is therefore to be commended. We can’t wait to see what more the company has in store in the years to come, especially since it makes a huge difference to those who benefit from their work.