The new Microsoft is very focused on the ability to provide computing experiences to everyone, and a big part of that is accessibility features. It will be further upgrading this offering with tweaks in the Windows 10 Fall Creators update.
In celebration of Global Accessibility Awareness day, program manager Jeff Petty detailed these on the Microsoft blog. They include improvements to Narrator, Magnifier, Learning Tools, and more.
Accessibility Changelog for Windows 10 Fall Creators Update
However, there are also some new features, including color filters at an OS level and automatically generated image descriptions. Here’s the full list of changes:
- “Device learning mode – Narrator will include the ability to send commands from a keyboard, touch or braille display and get feedback about what the command does without invoking the command.
- Usability improvements – Narrator will read controls more accurately and consistently, will include Scan Mode turned on by default (and remember whether Scan Mode is turned on or off in apps across sessions), and will read apps like Settings and Weather like a web page. Narrator continues to make progress toward a unified interaction model, where Windows apps and web pages can be navigated with a consistent set of commands so that Narrator is easy to learn and use without having to remember a large set of keyboard shortcuts.
- Braille improvements – Narrator users can type and read using different braille translations. Users can also perform braille input for application shortcuts and modifier keys, which enables users to employ their braille display to perform common tasks such as pressing ALT + TAB to switch between active applications or pressing CTRL + B to bold text.
- Automatically generated image descriptions – Narrator will include the ability to use artificial intelligence to generate descriptions for images that lack alternative text on demand. The service includes the ability to extract text from images using optical character recognition.
- Magnifier improvements – Magnifier on the Windows 10 Desktop will follow Narrator focus, so that Magnifier and Narrator are easier to use together for low vision users. Desktop Magnifier will include an option to provide smoother fonts and images. And, it will include new Settings and the ability to zoom in and out using a mouse wheel.
- Color filters – Windows 10 will include color filters at the system level, including filters designed to make it easier for people with color blindness to differentiate between colors like red and green and to make it easier for people with light sensitivity to create and consume content.
- Learning Tools in Edge – In addition to eBooks, Read Aloud or simultaneously highlighting and voicing text, Learning Tools will be supported on web pages.
- Word predictions – In addition to the touch keyboard, word predictions will be supported for U.S. English using hardware keyboards.”
Assistive Technology Partners
As well as improvements to the base OS, Microsoft is promising to work further with its assisted technology partners. A significant part of that is bringing more assistive technology apps to the store.
Microsoft is also suggesting Windows 10 S as a good, simple alternative. Assistive technology upgrade will be able to switch from 10 Pro to 10 S free of charge.
You can find more detail on the Microsoft blog.