Accessibility – Inclusion For Everyone
Over 10 million people in the UK are registered as disabled. More than one billion people around the world need assistive products to enable independence and productivity. The shocking reality is that only 1 in 10 people actually have access to these kinds of accessibility products! 70% of all disabilities are invisible, these disabilities can be permanent, temporary or situational. Inclusion in the workplace should be for everyone. Are you, or others in your organisation, aware of the technology available to create equal opportunities for everyone?
Before we look at how Microsoft technologies can help to create inclusion for everyone in the workplace with their accessibility tools and features, what is accessibility?
“accessibility – the quality of being easily reached, entered, or used by people who have a disability”
But what does this mean in terms of technology? Assistive technology should improve an individual’s independence. This year marked the seventh Global Accessibility Awareness Day, a day created to raise awareness and get people thinking and learning about digital access and inclusion for people with various disabilities.
Microsoft’s vision for accessibility
One of the key parts of the accessibility vision for Microsoft 365 is to empower people with disabilities to create, consume and share content in their preferred way. Last year Microsoft produced a short film titled Empower every person: reimaging accessibility. It features Microsoft accessibility experts from around the world and introduces best practises and accessible-by-design technologies. We’re going to take a brief look at some of those technologies and the types of disabilities they are designed to help.
Accessibility tools for vision
- Colour filters can be applied to the screen to boost contrast or get rid of colours completely. With the use of colour filters, you can customise your screen’s colour palette to suit someone who may have light-sensitivity, colour blindness or a visual preference.
- The Magnifier tool can be used to enlarge words and images on the screen. Within the Magnifier tool there are customisable settings which allow you to change variables such as the zoom increment, which type of magnifier view is preferred i.e. lens or full screen.
- Hear audio description everywhere. When using the Narrator function, all text on your screen will be read aloud. It can also be used for events such as notifications and calendar appointments. Narrator is available in a wide number of languages.
- New for 2019 are update cursor sizes and colours to make Windows easier to see. You can make your cursor up to 8 times larger and select from a variety.
Accessibility tools for hearing
- Windows 10 can help you hear more from your computer if you have partial hearing or deafness in one ear. By turning on mono audio you convert stereo sound into a single channel so you can hear everything, even if you’re using just one headphone.
- Change notification settings. Visit the Ease of Access settings where you can select visual notifications over sound.
- Presentation Translator and Microsoft Translator make it easy for audiences to follow along any presentation. Presentation Translator supports over 60 languages and allows presenters to display live translated subtitles. Microsoft Translator allows up to 100 audience members in the room to follow along in their own language on their own device.
As much as organisations should be focussing on maximum accessibility for all employees, they need to make sure mental health and wellbeing isn’t neglected. Our guide looks at signs to look out for in yourself or others and what employers can do to help.
Accessibility tools for neurodiversity
- When you need a little help to stay focussed, turn on Focus Assist. This handy tool allows you to block alerts and notifications so you can get important tasks done without distractions. You can customise notifications in case there are messages from specific people which you don’t want to miss. Once your period of focus time is over you will get a summary of everything you have missed.
- In Office 365 apps you might have noticed a ribbon which says, “Tell me what you want to do”, sometimes this may say “Search” in the ribbon instead. In this text field you can enter various words and phrases and quickly be taken to features you want to use or actions you want to perform.
- The combination of Reading View and Learning Tools make working online even easier. Reading View enables the user to clear any distracting content from web pages enabling the user to stay focused on what they want to read. Learning Tools are built into the Microsoft Edge browser and allow any web page or PDF to be read aloud.
Accessibility tools for mobility
- Control with your eyes! Some physical disabilities might make it difficult to use a keyboard. The Eye control tool uses eye tracking technology to control your mouse pointer, type using an on-screen keyboard and use text-to-speech to communicate with others.
- When a physical keyboard isn’t suitable, users have the option of an On-Screen Keyboard (OSK). A small virtual keyboard will appear on the screen with all the standard keys. This can be used with your mouse or joystick. Also, for those users who may need additional help text prediction is also available.
Hopefully some of these tools will be of use to you or your organisation. This is by no means a complete list, Microsoft are forever extending their accessibility functions to ensure there is inclusion for everyone. Click here to find out about the full range of accessibility tools they offer
Complete Guide to Office 365 Adoption
Many organisations still struggle to get their employees to make good use of new technologies available to them. This guide will explore the top 10 mistakes that are commonly seen throughout an Office 365 roll-out and provide some simple measures that can be put in place to dramatically increase Office 365 adoption and usage rates.
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