The following blog post was written by Paul Nyhan, a staff writer with the Microsoft Accessibility Blog. Paul is a 20-year journalism veteran who has written extensively about disability issues.

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Stephanie Radecki has been using Microsoft products for more than a decade, everything from Excel to count box tops for fundraisers at her children’s school to Publisher to write Christmas letters.
 
Stephanie also was born deaf but grew up in a hearing world - her parents and older brother have typical hearing. So, she learned to read lips and used hearing aids until her 30s, when she received Cochlear implants. ‘

After she received her implant and her oldest son was born, she bought her first home PC and began using Word, PowerPoint, Hotmail, Office Picture Manager and Access in many of her daily tasks. She relied on Publisher for example, to create flyers and letters when she worked at school.

In the New Year, Stephanie will have an even easier time using Microsoft’s products because she will have an Xbox 360, Kinect and Office 365, which all have new accessibility tools for hard-of-hearing and deaf users.

“We just got that (Xbox 360) for our kids for Christmas this year and I believe that will make some changes in our household, like using the Internet via Xbox 360,” Stephanie wrote during an email interview. “I have no idea yet, but our boys seem to know there is a lot we can do with it!”

With Xbox 360, for example, Stephanie and her family will be able to watch movies and television shows easily because they will be able to download programs with closed captions directly through their console. (To learn more about how to set up an Xbox 360 console or Windows 8 computer to display closed captioning check out, Accessibility and Kinect for Xbox 360.)

When Stephanie upgrades to Office 365 she will have another set for accessibility tools. She will be able to use text or visual prompts, for example, instead of sounds. If she uses Windows 8 she will be able to find options through the Ease of Access Center to replace sounds with visual prompts. Read more at Microsoft’s “Guide for Individuals with Hearing Impairments.”