Microsoft rolls out Windows 10 update with accessibility improvements

Wednesday, 3 August 2016 10:47am

Microsoft has commenced rolling out a major new update to its Windows 10 operating systems on desktop, laptop and tablet devices, bringing a number of new features which include benefits to people with disabilities.

Image of the words ‘Windows 10 Anniversary Update’

 

Cortana, Microsoft’s digital assistant, can now be used from the locked screen which can potentially benefit people with a mobility impairment in providing greater control of the device through verbal commands when the screen is locked

Arguably the most significant improvements are the integration between mobile devices and a Windows desktop or tablet. If you install the Cortana app on Android, your mobile phone and Windows computer can communicate with each other by, for example, giving you the ability to receive messages and notifications in Windows and even indicating when your mobile phone needs charging. It also has better integration in reverse, allowing you to respond to messages in Windows which are then sent back to the phone, and if a journey is planned in maps on the desktop, the same map will appear on your mobile phone.

For people with a vision impairment who have difficulty seeing the information on a small mobile screen, the ability to easily interact between a computer with a larger screen and the smaller mobile screen is also likely to be beneficial.

Other new features in the update include more themes such as a ‘dark’ theme and significant updates to the Microsoft Edge web browser including allowing for the installation of extensions. This is likely to significantly improve the compatibility of the web browser with assistive technologies and also provide new features in the long term similar to the extensions developers have built for browsers such as Chrome and Firefox. There is also a significantly improved functionality for digital drawing which may provide assistance for cognitive disability users who find it easier to interact with the computer by drawing text and images on the screen with a digital pe

The update is rolling out to Windows 10 desktops, laptops and tablet devices now, starting with the newest installations first, with smart phones to get this update later in the month. Additional information can be found on Microsoft’s Windows10 blog on the Anniversary update.


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