Make accessibility and inclusion the norm with assistive technology from Microsoft.
The global tech giant have built a whole host of assistive technology tools into both their current operating system, Windows 10, and their Office 365 productivity suite. They’ve made it their mission to support all users in realising their full potential, using tech as the enabler.
Making workplace environments more accessible to those with learning difficulties or particular requirements is beneficial not just to the employee, but also the company. They can instantly become more confident and productive. Similarly, in education, assisting those who need extra support can both enhance their learning and also benefit teaching as a whole. If all students are focused, disruption is reduced, allowing the teacher more time to attend to each individual.
Accessibility in Windows 10
When looking firstly at the Windows 10 operating system, the long list of features are separated into the broader categories of vision, hearing, physical and cognitive. Those with specific disabilities can then search through to see what features work best for them.
As an example from each category:
- Vision: Point accurately – Cursor and pointer size. It’s easier to follow the mouse by changing the pointer colour and size. You can even add trails and touch feedback.
- Hearing: Catch your eye – Visual notifications for sound. If hearing audible alerts is difficult, you can replace or augment them with visible alerts. Rather than sound cues, you can have your active Window or entire screen flash when a notification arrives.
- Physical: Click with your eyes – Eye control (beta). Eye control lets you use eye tracking technology to navigate and interact with your computer.
- Cognitive: Improve your reading – Learning tools in Microsoft Edge – The Microsoft Edge browser includes options to increase text spacing and read text aloud in ePubs, to help make it easier for everyone to read and enjoy text, including people with learning differences. Read aloud is also supported for PDFs.
Please visit Microsoft’s dedicated Windows Accessibility page for the full list of features.
Accessibility in Office 365
As Office 365 is auto-updating it is continually updated with assistive technology features. Your digital environment can become more inclusive by giving people of all abilities access to the information they need and the opportunity for more fulfilling interactions.
Microsoft have knowledgebase articles on how to use the accessibility features in their apps, such as:
- Including alternative text with visuals.
- Showing verbs, nouns and adjectives in different colours.
- Building an accessible SharePoint site.
Visit Microsoft’s page on Accessibility by Design in Office 365 to see how to enable more productivity across all devices.
Commitment to Accessibility
Speaking at an accessibility event in June 2019, Chris Rothwell, director of education at Microsoft UK, announced that the vendor is committing to training 30,000 staff in the UK in accessibility and inclusion in the classroom.
The initiative is about realising the benefits that are possible when those who need additional support can be identified and included. Although this is focused at education, the principles apply to the workplace too. Recognising there are those who need extra help is the first step in improving the every day for all.
There are so many ways to exploit the assistive technology within Windows 10 and Office 365. Talk to M-Tech about providing training for your organisation.