Microsoft announced earlier this month that it will end free upgrades to Windows 10 for people who use the operating system’s accessibility features by the end of the year.
The company discontinued general upgrades for Windows 10 in July of last year but had extended them for users who use features that enhance their ability to see and hear their computer and improve physical access and cognition for people with disabilities.
According to PC World, the assistive technologies in Windows 10 include Narrator, which vocalizes text; Magnifier, which increases the size of text for the visually impaired; and Speech Recognition, which allows you to control your PC using your voice.
“We are not restricting the free upgrade offer to specific assistive technologies,” Microsoft said in July. “If you use assistive technology on Windows, you are eligible for the free upgrade offer.”
The company revised its webpage in early November to read, “accessibility upgrade offer expires on 31 December 2017.”
Microsoft chief accessibility officer Jenny Lay-Flurrie, senior director for accessibility, online safety, and privacy at Microsoft, said it was important for Microsoft to consider accessibility when designing new Windows and Office 365 products, according to Stuff NZ.
Flurry, who is deaf, said disabled people make up a large proportion of Microsoft employees and customers and that companies like Microsoft had a responsibility to create products and software that were accessible to disabled people.
Lay-Flurrie uses an app on her smartphone to turn speech into captions for her to read.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, about 56.7 million people, or 19 percent of the population, reported having a disability in 2010. More than half reported the disability was severe.