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Upcoming Productivity and Accessibility Improvements In Office 365 Explained, Sign-up Ignite 2016

To make the progress on the outlined 2016 accessibility roadmap, a team of hundreds of engineers from the Office 365 have been working to release the key accessibility improvements this quarter.

The goal of these enhancements is people with all abilities can achieve more with the productivity technologies, with equal access to digital information and communicate, consume and create content on any device.

Here are some of the key accessibility improvements releasing this quarter:

“Narrator”, a built-in screen reader, which has received several key updates as part of the recent Windows 10 anniversary update will continue to improve the producttivity experience in Word and Outlook.

Narrator, the built-in screen reader in Windows 10, can be started from Ease of Access settings.

These included “new voices that can speak up to 800 words per minute,” “six levels of verbosity,” so you can get varying indications of text properties and control over how much punctuation you hear, and verbal hints when automatic suggestions are available.

SharePoint Online will have improved screen reader experiences with new headings making page navigation easier, “search as you type” alerts, and improved navigation by either table commands (if using JAWS), or arrow keys.

In the Document Libraries too navigation is more accessible now with headings, keyboard shortcuts, and the ability to using arrow keys similar to Windows Explorer.

In additon, Screen reader now announces uploads in progress and confirmations for actions within Document Libraries.

The notes similar enhancements are coming in SharePoint Lists as well.

Recently, announced “Editor”, which is a cloud-based advanced proofing and editing service specifically for people with dyslexia—will inspire the upcoming Editor enhancements for Word on PCs in the next few months.

The company explains writers who have tried spell-checking with Editor have found significant improvements. In particular, the ability to choose between suggested spellings, synonyms, definitions, suggestions and audio pronunciation of the intended word.

High Contrast mode, which is still work underway allows people with vision impairments to see data more clearly. The High Contrast themes in particular are more useful which ensure people with vision impairments can interact with data and commands in the applications with less eye strain.

Excel Online already has High Contrast enabled, particularly tables, active cell, cells-selection outlines, hyperlinks in sheets, sparkline, slicers, shapes and charts are all respecting High Contrast theme.

Learning Tools, were recently made generally available for readers with dyslexia helped many such students with reading and dictating text in in multiple languages including Spanish, French, German and Italian.

Accessibility Checker is now available in Office for Mac, as well as Sway web and Windows Store apps.

The tool is helpful to identify areas in your files with images or videos that are missing alternative text. it’ll be available for Word, Excel and PowerPoint Online apps and Outlook for PCs and Macs next.

Also, users of Word applications for Mac are now able to export documents tagged as PDFs. The feature will soon be in conformance with the PDF/UA standard.

The team also intends to offer this capability for Excel and PowerPoint apps for Mac next.

Export as accessible PDF from Word for Mac.

Finally, Office team is also hosting a Microsoft Ignite conference in Atlanta during September 26–30 on Office 365 Accessibility Enhancements.

In addition, those who have Office 365 E5 and/or Enterprise Mobility + Security (EMS) suite can find a dedicated sessions at Ignite.

“These sessions are designed to help IT teams plan and implement advanced capabilities with Office 365 and Enterprise Mobility + Security (EMS) suite,” stated office team.

Do you plan to implement or are you currently blocked in implementing any of the following Office 365 E5 security features?

  • Advanced eDiscovery
  • Advanced Threat Protection
  • Advanced Security Management

Since, the sessions are limited, if interested submit your nominations by Sep 7, 2016 to [email protected] with the following information:

  • Name of your company or organization.
  • Contact information (name and title or role in your organization).
  • The focus area(s) you are interested in and any specific questions you have.
  • Brief description of your solution goals and the challenges you’d like to discuss in the session.

And, those of you interested in getting access to more accessibility enhancements coming to Office 365 apps by the year end can signing up for Office Insider or First Release options with Office 365.

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