Microsoft’s focus on usability has resulted in some major innovations, not least being their new Learning Tools suite. However, the company has also been focusing on making Office 365 more inclusive. Accessibility lead John Jendrezak took to the blog today to explain how.
Changes are coming to almost every program in the Office suite, including improvements to Narrator, Editor, Document Libraries and more. Jendrezak states that their primary goal is to allow those with disabilities to create and consume effectively, and give others tools to make accessible content.
Office 365 Changes Coming This Quarter
The blog post goes into detail about all of the changes that are coming this quarter and some that Microsoft released already. Here is a summary for your convenience:
“Screen reader usability improvements in Word, Outlook and SharePoint: New voices that can speak up to 800 words per minute, six levels of verbosity, so you can get varying indications of text properties and control over how much punctuation you hear, and verbal hints when automatic suggestions are available.
Document Library Improvements: Now includes headings for easy navigation across the major areas of the page, keyboard shortcuts for all major functions that can be viewed in the app by pressing ? and the ability to navigate lists of files and folders using arrow keys similar to Windows Explorer. Screen reader users can now hear announcements when uploads are in progress and confirmations for actions within Document Libraries. Similar enhancements are coming in SharePoint Lists as well.
High Contrast Mode: If you have been working in Excel Online on a PC with High Contrast enabled, you’ll notice that tables, active cell and cells-selection outlines are more visible, hyperlinks in sheets are respecting High Contrast theme colors and Sparkline, slicers, shapes and charts are rendered using High Contrast theme colors.
Proofing and Learning Tools: Editor will make it easier to choose between suggested spellings for a misspelled word. Synonyms or definitions will be shown alongside suggestions and it will be possible to have both read aloud.
Accessibility Checker available in Office for Mac: You now have the ability to run the Accessibility Checker from more places including, Word, Excel and PowerPoint apps for Mac and Sway web and Windows Store apps. We are working to offer this capability for Word, Excel and PowerPoint Online apps and Outlook for PCs and Macs next. In apps where Accessibility Checker has been available for many years such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint for PCs, we are making it easier to discover and use.
Export as tagged PDF from Word for Mac: Word applications for Mac now give you the ability to export documents as tagged PDFs and will soon be in conformance with the PDF/UA standard. We are working to offer this capability for Excel and PowerPoint apps for Mac next.”
Some of these updates will be available to Office 365 customers already. However, you can get hold of the newest features and improvements through the Office Insider program. You can also read Jendrezak’s full blog post here.