Senior Program Manager, Accessibility Skilling, Microsoft
- 332 - Keynote Fireside Chat - Harnessing Technology to Create a Disability-Inclusive and Accessible Future
With more than a decade of experience developing and demonstrating accessible technology in mobile, web, and artificial intelligence, Heather Dowdy is passionate about connecting the dots across disability, race, and tech. She currently manages Accessibility Skilling at Microsoft, with a focus on making the future of work more inclusive. Heather is responsible for the global partnership strategy to scale skilling opportunities that lead to employment for people with disabilities. Before relocating to Redmond, she was the Senior Product Manager of Accessibility Engineering at Motorola Mobility in Chicago. Heather has served as Chair of the Accessibility Working Group (AWG) of the Mobile Manufacturers’ Forum (MMF) and Chair of the Board of Directors of the World Institute on Disability (WID). As the oldest daughter of Deaf parents, Heather is fluent in American Sign Language (ASL). She loves using the design thinking process to create solutions that empower marginalized communities and improve usability for everyone. A strong believer in empowering communities through education and benevolence, Heather is the co-founder of Microsoft Ninja Camp and a Board member of Deaf Kids Code, providing STEM leadership training to high school students with disabilities. Heather holds a BS in Electrical Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.