Microsoft announces Surface Adaptive Kit to help with laptop accessibility

Microsoft has announced the Surface Adaptive Kit to make its laptops more accessible for disabled users.

During the Microsoft Event that took place on September 22, Microsoft showcased the Surface Adaptive Kit that takes cues from the Xbox Adaptive Controller. The new kit includes keycap labels, indicators for ports, bump labels, and device openers to allow users to use their devices.

The kit was unveiled by both Kris Hunter, Microsoft’s principal designer, devices UX research and accessibility, and Dave Dame, director of accessibility. The first we’re shown is the accessible packaging that allows users to pull open the kit from the case effortlessly.

Microsoft Surface Adaptive Kit port labels

Stickers are available to stick onto the keyboard and are raised, allowing the user to feel the symbols that are not only high-contrast but also clearly different shapes to avoid confusion. For the 4 color sets, there are 4 symbols each. Also included in the kit are keycap labels that work similarly to the stickers and are designed for blind and low vision users.

Port labels are another part of the kit that comes with 5 strips in different colors and patterns, with another 5 tabs that match their corresponding strip. The idea is to use the strips around an assigned cable, then users can use the tabs that are stuck on the device to connect the cables to the laptop ports. There is a lanyard tab as well that attaches to the back of a Surface laptop, allowing the user to pull the monitor stand out.

Bryce Johnson, co-inventor of the Xbox Adaptive Controller and accessibility research tweeted some details on the product. He revealed that the designers, Go Osaki and Mark Weiser worked with the disabled community to craft the kit. Additionally, the team was inspired by both occupational therapists and members from an Inclusive Design Sprint.

There has been no mention of pricing or availability as of yet although could be available later this year. More information on the Surface Adaptive Kit has been made available on Microsoft’s website, looking at ways users can use the stickers. The Verge details that the kit is suitable for the following

  • Surface Pro 7 and up
  • Surface Laptop 3 and up
  • Surface Book 3
  • Surface Laptop Studio
  • Surface Dock 2
  • Microsoft designer compact and Bluetooth keyboards

While this kit seems intended for the Surface ecosystem, it seems that there are plenty of other possible uses if users are willing to experiment and make their devices more accessible to them.

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Ben
BaylissEditor-in-ChiefHe/Him

Ben is the one in charge of keeping the content cogs at Can I Play That? turning. Deafness means that he has a focus on discussing captions, but with experience in consultancy and advocacy, he covers what bases he can. Having written about accessibility in video games at DualShockers, GamesRadar+, GamesIndustry.biz, Wireframe, and more he continues his advocacy at CIPT. He was actually awarded a Good Games Writing award for an article he wrote here! He enjoys a range of games, but anything that’s open-world and with a photo mode will probably be his cup of tea. You can get in touch with him at: ben@caniplaythat.com

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