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A Visionary With Technology's Help
AIO | Corporate News
Fri 14 Sep 2007

Manila, Philippines -- Many have heard her story and she has become a household name when it comes to inspirational and motivational speaking. Today, she continues to be an inspiration - innovating and creating means for others, that they too may become as inspiring as they can be.

What she does is beyond brilliance and hardwork – it’s extraordinary. Roselle Ambubuyog consistently graduated with highest academic honors in her preparatory, elementary and secondary schools. She also graduated from the Ateneo De Manila University as Summa Cum Laude and Class Valedictorian with a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics and a minor in Actuarial Science. As if this isn’t enough, she is now pursuing her Masters degree in Applied Mathematics, specializing in Actuarial Science, at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City.

At 27, Roselle is really no ordinary girl. She lost her sight completely at the age of six, but she has achieved more than persons with no disabilities have. But more than her academic awards is the number of people she has inspired with her life story of triumph over the odds.

As part of the Asian Center for Trainers and Speakers (ACTS), Roselle has given talks to almost all kinds of organizations during all kinds of occasions. She has frequented graduations, leadership seminars, and talks on self-improvement among others.

How she does her work is the amazing part. Roselle is more techno savvy than any regular 27 year old. She has five Personal Data Assistants (PDAs), a desktop computer and a laptop and she commands all these like a captain does his platoon. “I can do everything with a computer. It gives me independence as a disabled person. I don’t need sighted assistance to do my work,” shared Roselle. She also works as a Product & Support Manager of Code Factory, S.L., a Spain-based company that is today's leading developer of mobile phone accessibility solutions for the blind and visually impaired worldwide.

Roselle adds, “I want the blind to have an equal opportunity in society to become productive and to achieve success like everyone else, and I believe technology will play an important role in making this happen. In fact, I myself consider technology as an integral part of my personal and professional life.”

With the help of her screen reader, a form of assistive technology (AT) thatconverts to synthesized speech what is displayed on the computer screen, Roselle creates her own PowerPoint presentations for use during training sessions for distributors and customers about products of Code Factory; does her own accounting in Excel; and communicates and works via e-mail with Outlook.

“Boundaries are non-existent with new technology. I can do just almost anything a sighted person can do with his computer,” Roselle shares. She works at home, sending e-mails like a pro to both colleagues and customers. “In a way, technology has become my virtual workplace, it bridges the distance between me and the company I work for, which is based in Spain.”

“Working for an international company like Code Factory made me realize how important communication via the Internet has become. Blind people, just like the sighted, have resorted to reading and writing blogs for this purpose, but unfortunately, not all blogging services are accessible to screen-reader users. Now that blogging is supported in Word, computer users who are blind can just type our blog entries in Word and send them to a supported service like Windows Live Spaces to post. Similarly, very few RSS readers are screen reader-friendly, so the built-in RSS aggregator in Outlook 2007 is a most welcomed feature,” enthused Roselle.

Ferdie Macatangay, Product Manager for Information Worker, Microsoft Philippines said, “The collaboration features of the 2007 Office were enhanced to allow information workers like Roselle to communicate and share information and view shared files with colleagues and customers day in and day out with ease and regardless of her location. She doesn’t need a desk with a pile of information sheets, she can store all the information she needs, from business contacts, customer information to market strategies, in a familiar interface such as Outlook.“

Roselle adds, “I'm already excited about the benefits of the collaboration features in the 2007 Office, once my screen reader works well with the SharePoint services and Office Groove 2007. Considering that I work remotely from Manila for a company in Barcelona, Spain which has business partners, distributors and customers in more than 50 countries worldwide, being able to share Word documents, Excel spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations with colleagues and other people connected with my job will increase efficiency and productivity of all parties involved.”

Roselle is even more efficient with the help of the 2007 Microsoft Office system because it is designed to work with different assistive technologies. The 2007 Microsoft Office system includes improved support for screen readers, magnifiers, speech recognition, alternative displays and other assistive technologies. Assistive technology products are designed to provide additional accessibility to individuals who have physical or cognitive difficulties, impairments, and disabilities.

For Roselle, the automatic generation of citations in Word, and the word count in the status bar that updates automatically while you type are just some features in 2007 Word that makes work easier. “I'm glad to see these very useful features, as it will help blind people, especially those who write documents that require such functions to finish their work without sighted help.”

She sees many benefits from the improved accessibility and the new user interface (UI) of 2007 Office. “Apart from the personal advantages this new user interface provides me, I am also considering how it would be easier for younger blind people - those who are just about to start learning how to use a computer and different PC programs - to learn the interface of Office applications as they will have fewer keystrokes to memorize now that they can execute a function/command more quickly.”

“Microsoft has always been committed to developing technology that is always inclusive. We designed our software in such a way that it amplifies human skill, regardless of disabilities. We are constantly innovating to enhance the accessibility of our products, such as the 2007 Office system,” added Macatangay.

Technology has become an enabler and partner for Roselle. “It’s very important that there are companies, such as Microsoft, that are serious in being able to give persons with disabilities access to technology. And I am looking forward to the day of enhanced human-computer interaction, where accessibility and usability issues are a thing of the past, and the disabled will no longer have to make limited use of available technology because their special needs were not considered during the development phase of such software or hardware.”

Roselle Ambubuyog is part of the Microsoft Office Icons campaign, a project which pools together a group of individuals who have made their mark in their respective fields, inspired others to do better, and successfully integrated technology as a vital part of their lifestyle. The Microsoft Office Icons serve as examples of how an individual can be empowered or how one can empower others with the use of technology.

“I want to inspire every individual that I can to keep on finding ways that will help them innovate and go beyond stereotypes and expectations. Technology is a good thing, not only for persons with disabilities, but for anyone who is open for a change that’s for the better, concluded Roselle.”

With all her accomplishments she is still working on yet another inspiring endeavor – to give more opportunities for persons with disabilities through access technology and training. And with the help of technology, Roselle will surely be able to do all that she wants and more to inspire generations and generations to come to rise above the ordinary.

Photo caption: Roselle shows off the gadgets that allow her to be more productive and efficient in her personal and professional activities.