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Microsoft Announces Accessibility Plans for 2017 including Built-in Braille Support and Unattended Installs for Narrator

Scott Davert Friday, 09-Dec-2016 4:56 PM ET

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At the beginning of 2016, Microsoft presented a Road Map moving forward which laid out their plans and visions for the future of accessibility on Microsoft products. Microsoft has now published a list of things they hope to achieve in 2017.

A full update, called the Creators Update, will bring a host of new Main stream functions and features to Windows 10. Microsoft has also announced in the linked blog post, which is the source link, that many accessibility enhancements are also coming with this update.

Among those enhancements to the Windows 10 experience is developing built-in support for braille displays with Narrator. "The (Windows Creators update) beta will support braille displays from more than 35 manufacturers, using more than 40 languages and multiple braille variants, including grade 2 contracted braille." This would mean the only major operating system without built-in braille support would soon be Android, as it already exists on iOS, Mac OS, and even Chrome OS to some extent.

With the Creator's update, unassisted installation will also be possible for blind users, as support for Narrator will be built in throughout the entire process. This includes when in Recovery Mode.

Microsoft also announced that there will be availability of 10 more TTS voices, along with support for multi-lingual documents. This means that if you have a document with more than one language, Narrator will switch to the TTS of the specified language on the fly. There will also be enhancements to the audio of Narrator itself. Audio Ducking, or Dynamic Ducking as called by Microsoft, will be a native Narrator feature with the Creators Update. As is the case with most other screen readers on the market, this feature allows you to have the TTS play louder than the audio you are listening to only when the screen reader is speaking.

Other enhancements coming include more reliable and descriptive info available regarding where your cursor is, enhancements to web navigation with Edge, and several changes to make different reading modes more effective. Microsoft also reminds users in this post that Window-Eyes for Office is still a program available for users of that suite of products. Find out more details about these changes, along with a few not mentioned here, by following the source link.

Source: Microsoft
Category: News
Displaying 2 comments.
gallagher123123 Friday, 09-Dec-2016 8:33 PM ET:

It really amazes me to see Microsoft’s commitment to accessibility. Several years back before I learned about NVDA, I used narrator for about 8 months on Windows XP. It was not fun, but it got the job done for some very basic tasks. It is so good to see that Microsoft is really working on narrator, and hopefully it can eventually become the go to screenreader.

darknexus Monday, 12-Dec-2016 10:05 AM ET:

About time for the installs and recovery. I hope we can turn the audio ducking off though, as I absolutely hate that. They also need to make darned sure Narrator works with Office, none of this relying on Window-Eyes crap.

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