Accessibility improvements in Windows 10 Anniversary Update

Windows 10 Anniversary Update is just around the corner, i.e. on August 2nd. Microsoft recently announced the improvements in Accessibility in Windows 10 Anniversary Update. Here is a glimpse of what all is improved in the accessibility point of view:

Accessibility improvements in Windows 10 Anniversary Update

Accessibility improvements in Windows 10 Anniversary Update

Within Accessibility, Microsoft’s team works on applications and software that can help differently abled people. There are already numerous apps and software developed by the team for differently abled people, such as screen reader, text to speech and more.

Microsoft mentioned that the additions in the Anniversary Update represent a significant step forward in their effort to make Microsoft products accessible. New features have been added to built-in tools such as Narrator and Magnifier as well as apps like Cortana, Mail, and Edge.

Some of the updates are as follows:

Improved Screen Reading with Narrator: Microsoft has done a lot of changes with Narrator that come as a part of the Windows 10 Anniversary Update. The updates are:

  • Improved text to speech voices: Microsoft has added new voices to Narrator that offer a much faster top rate of speech. The current voices average a maximum of roughly 400 words per minute. The new voices average nearly twice that at approximately 800 words per minute.
  • New languages added to Narrator: Now Narrator will come with more languages such as Spanish, French, Portuguese, Arabic, Catalan, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, Dutch, Swedish, and Turkish.
  • The introduction of scan mode: This is the newest addition to the Narrator. Microsoft has added a new navigation mode to Narrator called Scan mode. Scan Mode is turned on with a press of CAPS LOCK and SPACE. While users are in Scan mode, they can press SPACE to activate an item of interest, such as following a link on a web page or pressing a button in an app.
  • Six levels of verbosity: Narrator can now support the six levels of verbosity for giving the users more details about the characteristics of the text. They can cycle through these modes by pressing CAPS LOCK + CTRL + (PLUS). For example, at Verbose mode 0 (zero), the user will hear just the text. At verbose mode 1, the user might hear if the text is a heading. Thus, the user can change the verbose mode to know more about the text that is being read by the Narrator.
  • Punctuation Modes: Narrator now gives the users more control over how much punctuation they hear when reading the text. CAPS LOCK+ALT+(PLUS) and CAPS LOCK+ALT+(MINUS) cycle through the settings for punctuation. The settings for punctuation include none, some, most, all and math along with the default.

Besides these, Narrator has got some more features such as more familiar keyboard navigation, announcing AutoSuggest results and easy to send feedback to Microsoft team. To make the usage of Narrator easy Microsoft’s team is working hard on user guides and documentation. The user guides will be available online when the Anniversary Update is released.

Apps and experiences made more accessible: Microsoft’s team not only has worked upon Narrator, but they have also worked on making the apps and experiences more accessible. Some of these accessibility improvements in Windows 10 Anniversary Update are as follows:

  • Microsoft Edge becomes more accessible in browsing and reading: Microsoft Edge team has already provided a number of updates on their accessibility progress. Some of these updates made to help developers more easily build accessible sites. The team has also been working closely with the most popular third-party assistive technology vendors to guide them through the transition to this new platform.
  • Mail: The Windows 10 Anniversary Update has a significant change in the Mail app. Since the initial release of Windows 10 last summer, there have been many improvements to the accessibility of the Mail app.
  • Cortana: Cortana proved to be the best assistance when it comes to accessibility provided to the people with disabilities. Users can more reliably operate search and Cortana with the keyboard, including things like navigating using arrow keys and tab order.

Apart from these major updates in accessibility in Windows 10 Anniversary Update, there are some more significant updates. These include Groove, the introduction of new tools such as developer tools and XAML Improvements. Again, to make these apps and new experiences understandable, Microsoft’s team is working on documentation.

You can read here about the other Windows 10 Anniversary Update features.

To know more about the accessibility improvements in Windows 10 Anniversary Update, visit MSDN.

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Anand Khanse is the Admin of TheWindowsClub.com, a 10-year Microsoft MVP Awardee in Windows (2006-16) & a Windows Insider MVP. Please read the entire post & the comments first, create a System Restore Point before making any changes to your system & be careful about any 3rd-party offers while installing freeware.