Microsoft partners with Ontario school board to teach kids about accessibility through Minecraft


Microsoft has teamed up with Ontario’s Peel District School Board to develop a new world in Minecraft aimed at teaching students about accessibility.

Announced at Microsoft’s accessibility-focused Ability Summit event, the world is called ‘BuildAbility’ and will focus on showing kids how to make their communities more inclusive. Specifically, the world will focus on five barriers: ‘Attitudinal,’ ‘Information’ or ‘Communication,’ ‘Organizational,’ ‘Physical,’ and ‘Technological.’

The tech giant notes that these don’t cover every accessibility barrier that people face, but they’re intended to reflect many common real-world ones. To accomplish that, Microsoft says PDSB educators who helped develop BuildAbility spoke with students about the accessibility barriers they regularly encounter.

In terms of the actual design of the world, Microsoft says it’s divided into three distinct areas inspired by Peel Region locations: a school, a shopping centre and a community corner with a gas station and store. BuildAbility will also feature an open sandbox for educators to create other areas for students to navigate.

The idea is that educators, with the help of a dedicated ‘Educator Guide,’ can lead lessons and provide resources for students to learn about and identify barriers in these areas. With Minecraft‘s extensive suite of creation tools, students will also be encouraged to build and re-build areas to make them more accessible.

More information can be found here.

Microsoft’s Ability Summit comes one week before Global Accessibility Awareness Day on May 19th, which aims to promote the importance of accessibility around the world.