Written by: Emily Johnson
The story of Microsoft’s head of accessibility services, Jenny Lay-Flurrie, inspires and empowers while showing the determination, strength, and courage of people with disabilities.
As a toddler, Jenny had measles followed by countless ear infections. Each time her eardrums burst, her hearing became more damaged, making her become deaf. When Jenny was younger, she wanted to hide her deafness, but this took an emotional toll.
Since working for Microsoft, Jenny continues to accept and embrace what always made her stand out from people who are hearing. This new-found acceptance made Jenny the disability advocate she is today. Her advocacy and hard work have educated and transformed Microsoft as a company. According to Microsoft’s Future decoded, Her team is at the forefront of creating positive experiences that apply technology to make a difference in the world, and the lives of individuals from how we hire and support people with disabilities in employment to innovative technology that aims to revolutionize ‘what’s possible’ for people with disabilities.
Some of Jenny’s responsibilities and efforts at the company include: getting feedback from customers, meeting with engineering groups, thinking about people, design and technology, planning conferences and events chatting with employees about how to drive inclusion and improve accessibility inside the company as well, and championing projects she thinks can make a difference.
Jenny has also accomplished, organized, and implemented many advocacy initiatives to empower those with disabilities and make them realize their full potential. These initiatives range from creating the Disability Answer Desk which provides specialist customer support to people with disabilities, hosting the annual Microsoft Ability Summit which focuses on empowering attendees, and instrumental in projects such as Soundscape and the Microsoft Ability Hackathon which has supported over 270 Hackathon teams focused on empowering people with disabilities with new technologies and capabilities.
Outside of Microsoft, Jenny is the current board chair of US Business Leader Network (USBLN) and was recognized as a ‘Champion of Change’ by the White House in October 2014.
(Source: Microsoft’s Future Decoded)
Jenny Lay-Flurrie, Inspires and shows individuals with disabilities that even though, society might underestimate the impact that people with disabilities can make. Jenny proves that is farther than the truth. Oftentimes, people with disabilities are underestimated on their intelligence and strength. However, these individuals are often-times the most inventive and determined problem solvers who have learned how to master adaptability.