Heather Burns is a Program Manager at heart, passionately curious, always looking for ways to improve anything. After a diverse 20+ year career(s) at Microsoft, she was excited to return to her passion, Accessibility! Providing training, project management, as well as software and hardware testing. All to improve the ability of individuals with disabilities to use products and services.
Ms. Burns’ passion for Accessibility started early, turning self-advocacy into a student run organization to help others gain the accommodations they needed for academic success. At Microsoft, she work on the accessibility of Windows and the Office family of products, becoming a co-inventor of UIAutomation (US Patents 7,644,367 & 7,490,313).
Cornell University, Ithaca NY -B.S. in Computer Science (1997)
Equal Entry LLC (2018 – Current)
Excited to be working on a team of likeminded driven individuals helping to improve the accessibility of the digital world.
- Works with clients to develop strategies to improve their overall accessibility
- Created client specific accessibility guidelines, based off of Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), to document proven accessible templates and techniques
- Accessibility testing, including analyzation of multimedia
- Recommend proper accessible remediations
- Created accessibility compliance statement for WCAG 2.0, WCAG 2.1 and Section 508
Microsoft Corporation (1997 – 2018)
Manager, Customer Service and Support (2017 – 2018)
Lead engineering teams to troubleshoot and solve support needs for global customer service and support. Mentor and develop staff. Ensure policy compliance and schedule coverages. Serve as escalation point for external customers and internal parties.
- Tapped to assist a struggling support team, Azure/Office 365 identity. Brought organization rigor to overworked team. Leveraged aptitude for finding failing processes and talent for implementing comprehensive solutions.
- Elevated and maintained team morale despite high workloads.
Program Manager/Manager, Public Sector, Customer Service and Support (2013 – 2017)
Led support team, working with public sector customers—reduced need for reactive engagement through proactive service delivery, while also serving as primary contact for addressing reactive issues. Represented public sector during reactive tool modifications, driving improvements, and mitigating issues.
- Thought leader recruited to manage projects that expanded delivery capabilities. E.g. Federal Time Entry compliance, Azure Government, CRM Online and Dynamics Government.
- Re-organized team, ramped stakeholders on new technologies, coordinated with legal/compliance/product groups, created new processes, and drove tool changes.
- Supported project post roll-out. Collaborated across departments to ensure access restriction maintenance, process adherence verification, and annual training.
- Led the charge to reorganize teams and focus on Windows technologies e.g. Reliability, Deployment, Directory Service, High Availability, Networking, and Azure. Reorganization freed up a manager to focus on System Center.
- Supported large reorganization requiring additional 2 manager hire. Supervised >40 staff during interim.
Senior Business Program Manger, Customer Service and Support (2008 2013)
Managed broad range of offerings from Americas’ Pro-Advisory to Premier US National (USNAT). Expanded role to global focus, joining global business support and strategy team. Ensured all tools supported contractual obligations to customers with zero tolerance for failure. Was sought out expert, advised on major product launches.
Created Extemporary Support vision, making proactive engagement a core requirement to reactive support while maintaining flexibility to support enhanced and customized support offerings. Pinpointed competition and support investment opportunities.
- Mitigated $2.2B USNAT support offerings risk, managing 2 year recovery project. Organized research team of 24 managers. Defined system to capture and report progress and results. Implemented corrective actions to address routing issues. Received second Gold Star award for outstanding performance.
- Collaborated with legal and contracting to change USNAT service description.
- Transformed USNAT support culture, ensuring all support stayed within US citizenship boundaries with only rare and well-documented customer-approved exceptions.
- Guaranteed all work done for USNAT could be leveraged for other offerings, e.g. EU Data Privacy, UK Nat.
- Identified key issues with major internal tool transition. Drove issue resolution prior to release, ensuring continued contractual support for large customers with 3rd tier support agreements. Defined and implemented new process.
Senior Technical Account Manager, Premier Support (2003 – 2008)
Key member of virtual team providing comprehensive support to small accounts and large enterprise customers.
- Managed support agreements for major global accounts.
- Handled case escalation.
- Created and documented individual service delivery plans, ensuring efficient contract usage.
- Communicated security bulletin releases, support lifecycle dates, and upcoming releases.
- Generated reports documenting usage trends, upcoming engagements reminders, and run rate analyses.
- Created renewal options, eliminating service lapse during contract negotiations.
Lead Program Manager/Program Manager, Accessibility Technology Group (1997 -2003)
Fast-track progression from program manager to lead program manager within Microsoft’s Accessible Technologies Group. Led and trained accessibility teams and redesigned accessibility applications. Improved accessibility of Office XP and Windows XP.
- Designed Windows UI Automation, a programmatic interface for assistive technologies. Work led to 2 US Patents (7,644,367 & 7,490,313) for client/server side of UI Automation.
- Created first ever ‘Microsoft Accessibility Guide,’ an internal resource defining product accessibility. Received prestigious Gold Star Award for work on project.
- Presented to product groups, external customers, and executive management.
- Member of W3C’s Web Accessibility Initiative, Authoring Tools Working Group.
- Trusted Tester for Web on Windows Certification v5 award by the Office of Accessible Systems & Technology, U.S. Department of Homeland Security – Credential ID TT190900076 (September 2019)
- Certified Professional in Web Accessibility (CPWA) award by the International Association of Accessibility Professionals (December 2018)
- Web Accessibility Specialist (WAS) award by the International Association of Accessibility Professionals (December 2018)
- Certified Professional in Accessibility Core Competencies (CPACC) award by the International Association of Accessibility Professionals (March 2018)
- Held a Top Secret (TS) Security Clearance (2014 to 2017)
Publications and Papers
- Q&A With Heather Burns, Accessibility Consultant, Equal Entry Equal Entry Blog (2022)
- Equal Entry Website Mistakenly Called Out as Inaccessible Equal Entry Blog (2020)
- Wheelchair Fencing Accessiblity Equal Entry Blog (2019)
- Equal Entry and LCI Tech Partner for an Enhanced Accessibility Experience Equal Entry Blog (2019)
Panels and Presentations
- UX@UA Accessibility Conundrums: Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD), UX@UA meetup (May 2022)
- WAS Series: Accessibility Testing with Screen Readers, Princeton University A11y Meetup (July 2021)
- How Accessibility can lead to a Killer Career (HAKC), Metrolina Association for the Blind Webinar series (July 2021)
- Accessibility Compliance Reporting 101, Equal Entry Webinar series (Feb 2021)
- UX/Usability Testing – IT Professionals with Disabilities Testing Your Product, IAAP Webinar series (Aug 2020)
- Professional Testers with Disabilities, Chicago Digital Accessibility and Inclusive Design virtual MeetUp (June 2020)
- Regularly presented to product groups, external customers and executive management about Accessibility (2000-2003)
- Microsoft Career Day in Redmond, WA (2000)
- “Customizing Help, Extendable Alerts and Accessibility”, Office 2000 Deployment Conferences in New Orleans, Louisiana, and Nice, France.
- Office 2000: Under the Hood, CSUN 1999
Awards and Honors
- Leadership Bench training program, offered by Microsoft to their top 4% of employees (2011-2015)
- Circle of Excellence awarded by Microsoft (2005)
- Gold Star awarded by Microsoft (2001 & 2012)
- US Patent 7,644,367
- US Patent 7,490,313
- Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) Compliance
- Section 508 Compliance
- Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA) Compliance
- Remote Management and Development
- Technical Evangelism
- Mobile Application Testing
- .NET Software Testing
- Apple iOS Software Testing
- Microsoft Windows Software Testing
- Freedom Scientific JAWS
- NonVisual Desktop Access (NVDA)
- Nuance Dragon Naturally Speaking
- VoiceOver (iOS and macOS)
- Google TalkBack
- Microsoft Narrator
- Microsoft On Screen Keyboard