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In context: Many disabilities can make using a computer difficult, if not impossible. There has always been a small industry specialized in designing and crafting ways to overcome these obstacles, but they are often expensive. With a relatively new push toward making computing and gaming more accessible, companies have created software and hardware to help those who struggle with traditional solutions.
On Tuesday, Microsoft announced that it is working on an adaptive accessory line to make computing easier for those with disabilities. It partnered with various accessibility groups and individuals to develop tools designed to meet specific needs.
"Each piece is designed in partnership with the disability community to empower people who may have difficulty using a traditional mouse and keyboard to create their ideal setup," said the company in a blog post.
The first in the line of accessibility products is the Adaptive Mouse. This accessory has a core unit that users can customize with tail extensions and thumb supports designed by Microsoft. Alternatively, customers can tailor their mouse with 3D-printed tails and supports of their own design.
The second is a set of components to replace a traditional keyboard. It consists of a central hub and various accessories, including large directional pads, foot pedals, joysticks, buttons, and more. Up to four components can connect to the hub wirelessly, creating countless ways for users to enter text. These accessories also have replaceable button tops allowing customers to design their own ideal inputs using a 3D printer.
It's not Microsoft's first time catering to the disabled community. Back in 2018, it launched the Xbox Adaptive Controller (XAC). Like the upcoming PC accessories, the XAC is adaptable and customizable, using 19 3.5mm jacks in the back of the controller to plug in various assistive technology like foot pedals, blowing tubes, oversized buttons, or user-designed inputs.
Microsoft didn't discuss pricing but did say that the accessories would start launching this fall. Those interested can peruse the items on the Microsoft website and sign up for notifications when the products become available.