Microsoft announced new accessibility features

As part of the twelfth edition of its annual global Ability Summit event, Microsoft announced a new Inclusive Tech Lab, new software features and customizable accessories designed to provide greater access to technology for people with disabilities.

Inclusive Technical Laboratory

Microsoft opened a new Inclusive Tech Lab on its campus. Dave Dame, Director of Device Accessibility at Microsoftcommented: “This space seeks to be an embassy for people with disabilities, not a space about them. It includes a sampling of Microsoft hardware, software, accessible services, as well as experiences created by Microsoft partners. It is an inclusive design incubator where Microsoft and the community can create and test accessible product design and direction.”

The latest features and news accessible in Windows and Microsoft 365

Automatic descriptions of images in Microsoft Edge: Many visually impaired people experience the Internet through a screen reader, an assistive technology that reads the content of each page aloud. These readers depend on the tags provided in the images (alternative text or alt text), a fundamental aspect for accessibility that allows to describe the visual content. However, according to data from Microsoft, more than half of the images processed by screen readers lack alt text.

In response to this problem and so that visually impaired users can discover the meaning of all the images that circulate on the web, Microsoft Edge offers auto-generated alt text for images that do not include it. To try it out, you can visit the Edge accessibility site and search for the option “Get image descriptions from Microsoft for screen readers”. Once enabled, Edge will start providing alt text to images that do not contain it so that the screen reader can read them.

Windows 11, the most accessible version of the operating system: At its launch late last year, the OS included a host of accessibility enhancements designed for and by people with disabilities, including quieter and more engaging sound designs, customizations of subtitles and a new Accessibility Settings panel to make all of these features easier to find and use. At Ability Summit, Microsoft took a deeper dive into four of the inclusive experiences coming to Windows 11.

To avoid constant distractions and mental exhaustion in this new hybrid work environment, Microsoft has simplified notification control by adding a Do Not Disturb option. In addition, designed for people with hearing disabilities and for people who speak non-native languages, the option Live Subtitles It allows you to automatically transcribe the spoken content of any audio and even applications such as Edge. This feature will be available throughout the operating system and in many more contexts than before.

Microsoft announced a new voice access experience for people with limited mobility, people with mild to severe arthritis, cerebral palsy, and other conditions that make it difficult to use an adaptive keyboard and mouse, so they can control their PC and create content in any app using your voice. Also, Natural Voices for Narrator take advantage of state-of-the-art text-to-speech on Windows devices, once configured, they will always be available (even without an Internet connection). This feature responds instantly and respects users’ privacy as text-to-speech is processed on the device, without sending information to the cloud. For now this option is only available with support for English.

Inclusive Outings: an app so that people with autism can choose their menu

Currently, 1 in 54 people has autism. For this reason, Sandra Fariña, Gabriela Leoni Olivera, Mariana A. Aleñá and Agustina Girard, who have been promoting the project for a long time Inclusive Outingswhose main purpose is to collaborate to achieve more accessible spaces for people with autism in society, last year, together with Microsoft and Shifta, digitized a solution that promotes the freedom and autonomy of people with autism when it comes to choose the menu in a gastronomic establishment.

The web application, which was recently recognized by the Senate of the Argentine Nationallows gastronomic establishments to put together their own accessible menu, that is, to create a menu through different pictograms, so that people within the EA can choose what they want to eat in restaurants, bars, ice cream parlors and confectioneries in the country.

“Our mission is to break down the barriers that prevent the inclusion of people with autism in society. Actions such as the web application that we put together together with Shift and Microsoft, are a reflection of how Inclusion is made possible through cognitive accessibility. Thanks to this page, the work of adapting a letter to pictograms, which used to take us months, can now be done in a matter of minutes. This makes it easier for all gastronomic businesses to do it for free and in an absolutely intuitive way”, they pointed out from Salidas Inclusivas.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.