Increasing accessibility in Windows 10 and Office 365

Increasing accessibility in Windows 10 and Office 365

A recent blog post from Microsoft’s Chief Accessibility Officer, Jenny Lay-Flurrie, highlighted the companies continued commitment to increasing Accessibility access within their latest operating system, and Microsoft Office package.

Here’s a breakdown of what they’ve discussed:

Windows 10: In 2015, we launched Windows 10 across the globe with built in Accessibility fundamentals but we know we have work to do to make Windows 10 a great experience for all users. Our goal in 2016 is to address this by:

  • Improve commonly used features and do a great job with showcase Windows experiences. We are working to ensure that everyone can easily access and use the Start menu, the lock screen, and settings as well as Cortana, Store, Music, Videos and more.
  • We’re also working hard on our new browser, Microsoft Edge. By the end of 2016, the browser will have improved browsing and reading experiences not just for those using our built-in assistive technologies, such as Narrator and Magnifier, but also for people who use other commercial assistive technology. On Feb. 3, we shared our priorities for 2016, including additional detail about the key areas that we think will have the biggest impact.
  • Windows 10 Mail will have improved screen-reader support for common email scenarios – already, we’ve made progress against these goals on Mail for PCs.
  • Work continues to improve our built-in assistive technology by increasing performance, reliability, compatibility and usability. These improvements translate to a faster Narrator, improved compatibility while using apps like Windows 10 Mail and Microsoft Word, better mapping of keyboard commands to user expectations and an increase in the number of supported languages.

Office 365: We are making regular accessibility enhancements to Office 365. Our goal is to make it easier for people with disabilities to communicate, consume and create content on any device. Also, we want to make it easier for everyone to author content that is accessible. Our key areas of investment include:

  • Making it easier to author accessible content from any device. In 2016, we will be extending the Accessibility Checker (already available in Office for PCs) to Office for Mac and improving the experience with alt-text in Office Online.
  • Making it easier to use Office 365 with screen readers and keyboards on any device. Last year, we added support for VoiceOver for Office for Mac and this year, we will be adding full accessibility support for all our Windows 10 store apps.
  • Enhancing the experience with our apps in High Contrast Mode. For example, we will make it easy to read commands and navigate through controls in Office for PC.
  • Introducing new reading and writing tools that are particularly beneficial for people with dyslexia. In January, we introduced a preview of Learning Tools in OneNote for PC that will be generally available in 2016. We are also working on improving spelling checker in Word 2016 and Outlook 2016 to offer suggestions for phonetic and other less commons misspellings.
  • Enabling everyone to use our applications in more intuitive ways. We introduced “Tell Me what you want to do…” in Office Online and Office 2016 for PCs to help people get things done quickly or get help by entering intuitive commands. We will be extending this capability to Office on iOS and Android in 2016.

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