A demo of Microsoft Office 365’s new accessibility features

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Tuesday, 7 June 2016 11:55am

Microsoft has recently updated Office 365 with three main new features that enhance accessibility for users with vision impairments. We provide an overview and share a video demo of the new updates.

Microsoft Office logo

This latest development supports a number of public statements outlining an increased commitment to inclusion of people with disabilities in its product offering and services. It follows Microsoft’s accessibility update announcements earlier in 2016 revealing a roadmap of accessibility features to be introduced over the course of the year.

Microsoft Windows is currently the world’s most popular family of operating systems, running on most of the world’s desktop and laptop computers. So it is imperative that Microsoft commit to making sure that their software is inclusive and accessible. 

1. High contrast function

Some people with certain vision impairments (such as cataracts) require computer content to have high contrast in order to be able to see content properly without straining.  Microsoft Office 365 has a high contrast feature, which is activated and deactivated by pressing Left Alt + Left Shift + Print Screen simultaneously on the keyboard.

2. Screen reader functionality enhancement

People who are blind or have vision impairments often rely on a screen-reader in order to hear what is displayed on a screen and navigate around their devices.

Microsoft has developed some of their apps in order to make them more accessible for VoiceOver users. Apps include: Skype for Business on iOS and Outlook for iOS.

3. Audio descriptions in PowerPoint

Microsoft has added in functionality and support for multiple audio tracks on videos in slideshows.  This allows audio description to be included on videos within a PowerPoint presentation.

A Demo of the new accessibility updates to Microsoft Office 365

Microsoft has released a demo of the new accessibility updates, as described in this news article.  It is presented by Xbox Engineer, and member of Microsoft’s Accessibility Community, Steven Liss. Within the video he demos the accessibility updates. As an individual with a visual impairment, he explains the importance and significance of the new updates for users.

Watch the demo of the new accessibility updates to Microsoft Office 365

To view information relating to the accessibility features in Windows, follow the links to the version you have:

  • Windows 10: an overview of the additional accessibility features and upgrade advice for Windows 10 Home and Pro
  • Windows 8.1: an overview of the additional accessibility improvements available in Windows 8.1
  • Windows 7, Vista and XP: a comprehensive list of accessibility features in Windows 7, Vista and XP

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