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Microsoft chief accessibility officer Jenny Lay-Flurrie. Photo: Microsoft

Google pledged to make wheelchair accessibility more prominent within Maps, while Microsoft is publicly sharing the knowhow it has accumulated developing products like the Xbox adaptive controller, Seeing AI and other accessible technology.

Why it matters: The moves came as the industry commemorated Global Accessibility Awareness Day on Thursday. The World Health Organization estimates that only one in 10 people with disabilities globally has the access they need to assistive technologies and products.

Details:

  • Google, in addition to more prominent labeling of wheelchair-accessible routes with Maps, announced Action Blocks, an Android application designed for those with various cognitive disabilities. Action Blocks allows users to combine multi-step actions into one customizable button, making it easier to manage complex tasks.
  • Microsoft is releasing publicly what it calls the Accessibility Evolution Model, its blueprint for building accessibility into its products, and adding some accessibility enhancements to Windows 10. The software maker also announced a partnership with the Special Olympics to hold a virtual video gaming event next week.
  • Apple used the day to highlight many of the accessibility apps within its ecosystems as well as to call out some of its own efforts.
  • Samsung also announced new accessibility features, tapping Bixby Vision, the visual component of its AI assistant, to help identify objects and read words to those with visual impairments.

My thought bubble: Improvements in tech to make them more accessible to all are worthwhile in themselves, but there are often side benefits too.

  • Captions for those with hearing impairments help train voice recognition systems and also make it easier for users to see videos without having to turn on their sound.
  • Cursor control for the iPad began as an accessibility feature but eventually turned into full trackpad support for all consumers.

Go deeper

Scoop: Gina Haspel threatened to resign over plan to install Kash Patel as CIA deputy

CIA Director Gina Haspel. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

CIA Director Gina Haspel threatened to resign in early December after President Trump cooked up a hasty plan to install loyalist Kash Patel, a former aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), as her deputy, according to three senior administration officials with direct knowledge of the matter.

Why it matters: The revelation stunned national security officials and almost blew up the leadership of the world's most powerful spy agency. Only a series of coincidences — and last minute interventions from Vice President Mike Pence and White House counsel Pat Cipollone — stopped it.

Updated 9 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus deaths reach 4,000 per day as hospitals remain in crisis mode — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden says, "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution — Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan — Widow of GOP congressman-elect who died of COVID-19 will run to fill his seat.
  3. Vaccine: Battling Black mistrust of the vaccines"Pharmacy deserts" could become vaccine deserts — Instacart to give $25 to shoppers who get vaccine.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode againFed chair: No interest rate hike coming any time soon —  Inflation rose more than expected in December.
  5. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.

John Weaver, Lincoln Project co-founder, acknowledges “inappropriate” messages

John Weaver aboard John McCain's campaign plane in February 2000. Photo: Robert Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images)

John Weaver, a veteran Republican operative who co-founded the Lincoln Project, declared in a statement to Axios on Friday that he sent “inappropriate,” sexually charged messages to multiple men.

  • “To the men I made uncomfortable through my messages that I viewed as consensual mutual conversations at the time: I am truly sorry. They were inappropriate and it was because of my failings that this discomfort was brought on you,” Weaver said.
  • “The truth is that I'm gay,” he added. “And that I have a wife and two kids who I love. My inability to reconcile those two truths has led to this agonizing place.”

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