The new toolbar began life as the ‘OneNote for Learning’ project, developed internally by a Microsoft team as part of a company hackathon – and in fact, it was so successful that it beat the other 3,300 projects and 13,000 participants, to be declared the overall winner of the 2015 ‘//oneweek Hackathon’ event.
Microsoft’s Jeff Petty – accessibility lead for Windows for Education, and the program manager behind that project – said in August that the team’s efforts were the result of intense collaboration, pulling in technologies and resources from across the company.
Dyslexia was a major focus for those working on the project, and the issue of ‘visual crowding’ – which can make densely-packed text difficult to read, solved by spacing letters out to help make them more readable – was just one component of their efforts.
Ultimately, they hoped to improve learning opportunities both for students and teachers. “When you address challenges with reading and writing, the benefits extend far beyond the original audience you had in mind,” Petty said. “By solving a problem for our audience, we’re actually going to make life easier for many more people.”