Microsoft 365 Launches Accessibility Assistant to Create More Inclusive Content

Microsoft 365 Launches Accessibility Assistant to Create More Inclusive Content

Table of Content

In this article, we will explore Microsoft 365’s new Accessibility Assistant, which aims to make content creation more accessible for all users.

Key takeaways:

  • Microsoft 365 has launched a new Accessibility Assistant tool to improve content accessibility.
  • The tool builds upon the existing Accessibility Checker and brings three significant improvements: improved defaults, real-time remediation, and an efficient accessibility assistance pane.
  • The new color picker in Microsoft 365 Apps helps users choose colors with sufficient contrast.
  • The tool flags accessibility issues in real-time and provides users with contextual cards for quick correction.
  • The Accessibility Assistant pane will be available later in 2023 for authors who prefer to hold off on making revisions until they are finished writing.
  • The tool will start rolling out in the coming weeks and will replace the Accessibility Checker in the core Microsoft 365 Apps.
  • Microsoft also announced other accessibility updates, including new 3D-printed adaptive accessories for the Surface Pen, support for 13 new African languages in Microsoft’s Translate tool, and automatically generated alt text descriptions and captioning for LinkedIn posts utilizing Azure Cognitive Services.
  • The Accessibility Assistant tool has the potential to be a game-changer for content creators and make content more accessible for all users.

Microsoft 365 Launches New Accessibility Assistant Tool to Improve Content Accessibility

Microsoft 365 has announced a new Accessibility Assistant tool aimed at making content creation more accessible for all users. 

Inaccessible content is a major issue on the internet, with almost 97% of public web pages containing accessibility problems that reduce their legibility and usefulness for people with disabilities. 

This is a barrier for people trying to do their jobs effectively, students accessing educational resources, and authors trying to reach their broadest possible audience. 

The Accessibility Assistant builds upon the Accessibility Checker and brings three significant improvements: improved defaults to avoid issues in advance, real-time and in-context correction of problems as they arise, and easy-to-follow instructions that appear during the workflow.

Prevent issues with better defaults

One of the key features of Accessibility Assistant is the new color picker in Microsoft 365 Apps, which helps users choose colors with sufficient contrast between text and its background. 

The color picker experience has two modes, one of which narrows the available color options that meet contrast requirements, plus an additional row of accessible options that align with the selected theme and design.

Real-time remediation

Another significant feature of the Accessibility Assistant is its ability to flag accessibility issues in real-time while users are writing. 

The tool will use a person-shaped icon to flag the location of accessibility issues across your work, such as low contrast between text and background. 

Clicking the icon will bring up a contextual card to help users make a quick correction and move on.

Efficient accessibility assistance pane

Microsoft recognizes that some authors prefer to hold off on making revisions until they’re finished writing. To support these users, the company will be rolling out a new Accessibility Assistant pane later in 2023. The pane will provide a clean, efficient interface like Microsoft Editor, with plain-language explanations that help users address entire categories of accessibility issues more easily.

Rolling out soon

The tool will start rolling out in the coming weeks, with the Microsoft 365 Insiders community helping to validate and finetune the experience inside of Word on Windows. 

Over time, Accessibility Assistant will fully replace the Accessibility Checker across the core Microsoft 365 Apps, extending to cover a broader range of issues and incorporating additional intelligent features to make it even simpler and more automatic to create content that everyone can use.

Other Accessibility Updates

In addition to the Accessibility Assistant, Microsoft announced several other updates at its annual Microsoft Ability Summit. 

The updates include new 3D-printed adaptive accessories for the Surface Pen, support for 13 new African languages in Microsoft’s Translate tool, and automatically generated alt text descriptions and captioning for LinkedIn posts utilizing Azure Cognitive Services.

Conclusion

Microsoft is committed to making content creation more accessible for all users, and the Accessibility Assistant is a significant step towards that goal. 

While the tool may initially offer similar features to the Accessibility Checker, it has the potential to be a game-changer for content creators and make content more accessible for all users.

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Written by

Alexander Sterling

Alexander Sterling

Alexander Sterling is a renowned financial writer with over 10 years in the finance sector. With a strong economics background, he simplifies complex financial topics for a wide audience. Alexander contributes to top financial platforms and is working on his first book to promote financial independence.

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Judith

Judith

Judith Harvey is a seasoned finance editor with over two decades of experience in the financial journalism industry. Her analytical skills and keen insight into market trends quickly made her a sought-after expert in financial reporting.