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January 16, 2023

5 best accessibility features in Microsoft 365

Software developers and tech companies strive to expand their customer base by increasing the accessibility of their products and services. The Microsoft 365 suite is leading the way in designing accessible interfaces and tools for diverse users in increasingly digital learning and working environments.

Learn more about how Microsoft 365 is innovating accessibility features in their assigned categories – vision, hearing, neurodiversity, learning, mobility and mental health – that are revolutionizing computing for a more accepting age.

1. Eyes control

Mobility restrictions will no longer prevent users from sending information or accessing data. If using a keyboard is not an accessible option, Microsoft 365 supports Eye Control.

Eye Control allows users to interact with screen content by blinking or staring. Microsoft calls this dwell time because the technology recognizes when eyes linger in specific areas. Users can adjust for precision, so clicking, scrolling and zooming are seamless and precise.

This feature requires additional peripherals, such as a supported eye-tracking device from Tobii or EyeTech. After setting up and calibrating the device and installing the software, users can adjust settings for general navigation, gaming and shape writing – an alternative to typing on the keyboard.

2. Inclusive reader

Whatever type of reader you are, Immersive Reader can enable all reading in OneNote, Word and Outlook. With its wide range of accessibility settings, no one will feel excluded from consuming content. It complements any reading style by enabling users:

  • Adjust visual elements, such as line and letter spacing or background color.
  • Have text read aloud at the chosen speeds.
  • Dictating to text.
  • Identify parts of speech for better writing.
  • Breaks up syllables for recognition.
  • Translate other languages.

Immersive Reader also provides teachers with tools to make their classrooms more interactive and accessible. It helps students improve comprehension across multiple languages, strengthen reading comprehension and increase self-esteem. Imagine the power behind this tool when defending educational variances, such as students who are hearing impaired or have dyslexia.

3. Focus assist

With employee productivity increasing business success by 64 percent, reducing distractions can be very helpful. With Focus Assist, everyone with different attention levels can stay on task while information is processed productively. Feel encouraged to personalize your workspace by reducing moving effects, clutter and notifications. Settings can be automated and respond to computer activity, such as having different settings for home work during the day versus late night gaming.

You can also adjust icons for transparency and size so that each bar and menu promotes focused engagement rather than superficial activity.

4. Captions and subtitles

Captions and subtitles during Microsoft Teams meetings or PowerPoints have never been more convenient and comprehensive. Presentation Translator works in more than 60 languages and viewers can choose their preferred language in larger video conferences to work globally and collaboratively. As long as the device has Microsoft Translator, international communication is simplified with a few clicks.

Microsoft Stream enables the automatic generation of subtitles to give viewers more confidence in following the content of the video. While subtitles are generated, a transcript is created in the background that viewers can refer to whenever they want.

5. Soundscape

Soundscape is one of the latest efforts by Microsoft 365, which recently moved to an open source model. For six years, Soundscape has redefined geographic experiences, especially for people with impaired vision.

Binaural audio cues offered choice for everyone, regardless of activity, including sports or performing daily activities. Sounds can provide comfort in unfamiliar areas or track movement, connecting individuals wirelessly in an emergency.

Increase accessibility in technology

Although Microsoft 365 offers one of the most comprehensive accessibility suites in technology, the team is always encouraging further development. The democratization of Internet content must include everyone, regardless of accessibility needs.

Other tech companies can see microsoft 365 as inspiration to keep motivating themselves in accessibility development and conceptualization.

Source: betanews

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