HomeArtificial IntelligenceCreate inclusive content material with the brand new Accessibility Assistant in Microsoft...

Create inclusive content material with the brand new Accessibility Assistant in Microsoft 365

Inaccessible content material is all over the place within the digital world. Practically 97 % of dwelling pages on the general public internet comprise points like lacking picture descriptions, movies with out captions, and hard-to-read textual content colours that scale back their legibility and usefulness for folks with disabilities.1 The identical points pervade the emails, slide decks, paperwork, and spreadsheets all of us create daily. This creates boundaries that hold our colleagues and coworkers from doing their jobs successfully, stop college students from getting probably the most out of their training, and hinder authors from reaching their broadest potential viewers. All of us share the accountability of breaking down these boundaries by making our personal content material accessible—however usually that’s simpler stated than achieved.  

Over the previous few years, we’ve been working to convey accessibility into the stream of content material creation inside Microsoft 365—to make checking accessibility as pure and easy as checking spelling and grammar. I’ve shared a few of our progress towards this purpose elsewhere.2

Immediately, I’m excited to announce a serious step towards that purpose with the introduction of Accessibility Assistant in Microsoft 365, a robust set of instruments that may assist creators produce extra accessible content material with much less effort—and all inside your pure stream of labor.

Woman sitting in kitchen working on 2-in-1 tabletin laptop mode.

Microsoft 365

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Accessibility Assistant helps you make extra accessible content material with much less effort

Our purpose is to make checking and fixing accessibility points pure and easy, whereas maintaining you within the stream of labor. Increasing on the prevailing Accessibility Checker, Accessibility Assistant introduces three key improvements: higher defaults to stop points earlier than they happen, real-time and in-context remediation to right points as they come up, and clear, easy steering that seems within the stream of labor. Let’s take a more in-depth look.

Make extra accessible decisions by default

With Accessibility Assistant, we’re bringing the identical philosophy we comply with in creating our merchandise to the artwork of content material creation: the easiest way to resolve a difficulty is to stop it from occurring within the first place. For instance, we all know it may be difficult to decide on colours that make content material each lovely and accessible. To assist our prospects navigate this problem, we’re introducing a brand new colour picker in Microsoft 365 Apps that accounts for each inventive license and the necessity for ample distinction between textual content and its background.

The brand new colour picker expertise has two modes. One appears to be like a lot the identical as earlier than however provides a tooltip to assist information you towards colours with ample distinction. Whereas toggling the high-contrast change takes you to the opposite expertise, which narrows the out there colour choices that meet distinction necessities (plus an extra row of accessible choices that align with the chosen theme and design).

Two views of the Microsoft Word color picker. One shows a mouseover tooltip that provides information about the selected color and its contrast with the background. The other shows the High-contrast only toggle switched on; only the darkest colors are showing.

Determine 1. New colour picker expertise in Microsoft Phrase.

Study and repair within the stream of labor

Our prospects inform us they’re obsessed with making content material accessible however that our instruments don’t make it as straightforward because it might be. Many have requested us to make our accessibility instruments work extra just like the spellchecker—flagging points as they happen and offering easy fixes within the second. Such a workflow helps creators keep away from attending to the tip of a mission and discovering an enormous checklist of points that may take time and power to repair.

We embraced this suggestion with Accessibility Assistant. To convey that very same degree of immediacy and ease to the accessibility house, we have now carried out a brand new kind of flag to name consideration to accessibility points when you write.

Segment of a Word document with the words “Hiking Trails” selected. A contextual card is showing below the selected text which reads “Hard-to-read text color. Color is difficult for some readers to see.” The card offers three shades of brown with better contrast to choose from.

Determine 2. Contextual flagging of textual content distinction points in Microsoft Phrase.

The primary class of concern these flags will deal with is low distinction between textual content and background—probably the most frequent accessibility concern we see in Microsoft Phrase paperwork. When you choose a textual content colour that doesn’t meet normal distinction pointers, a small accessibility icon seems within the margin. And similar to with the pink squiggles of the spellchecker, clicking the icon brings up a contextual card that will help you make a fast correction and transfer on.

Appropriate accessibility points extra simply

In line with our mission to make Microsoft 365 help creators of all skills and preferences, it’s necessary to acknowledge that some authors desire to carry off on making revisions till they’re completed writing. In an inner research of content material creators, we discovered a virtually even break up amongst those that most popular to examine spelling and grammar whereas they work (28 %), on the finish (19 %), and each all through and on the finish (31 %).3

Venn diagram representing when people like to address spelling and grammar. Left circle represents throughout at 28 percent, right circle at the end at 19 percent, and middle section for both at 31 percent.

Determine 3. When spelling and grammar are checked primarily based on inner analysis.

To help the mixed 50 % of creators who wish to examine for points on the finish, we will even be rolling out a brand new Accessibility Assistant pane later in 2023. The pane gives a clear, environment friendly interface like Microsoft Editor, with plain-language explanations that aid you deal with total classes of accessibility points extra simply. As you click on via the checklist, you’re taken on to the situation of every concern whereas the pane recommends an answer—no specialist data essential.

Microsoft Word document editing window. The Accessibility Assistant pane on the right side of the interface is highlighted with a colorful outline.

Determine 4. Accessibility Assistant pane in Microsoft Phrase.

Begin creating extra accessible content material as we speak

As creators and reviewers of content material, all of us maintain accountability for creating content material that may be accessed equitably by all. Within the coming weeks, we’ll begin rolling out Accessibility Assistant. We are going to work with the Microsoft 365 Insiders group to validate and finetune the expertise within Phrase on Home windows, with extra apps and experiences to comply with.

Over time, Accessibility Assistant will totally substitute the Accessibility Checker throughout the core Microsoft 365 Apps. Because it does so, it would lengthen to cowl a broader vary of points and can incorporate further clever options to make it even less complicated and extra computerized to create content material that everybody can use. Be a part of the Microsoft 365 Insider Program as we speak to be among the many first to attempt the Accessibility Assistant, and be sure you tell us what you suppose utilizing the suggestions device within the app. And there’s no want to attend—you’ll be able to go to our help website as we speak to study extra about the best way to begin making your content material accessible in Microsoft 365, subscribe to my quarterly updates to comply with the newest developments, or attain out to Microsoft’s Incapacity Reply Desk to offer suggestions and entry devoted help.

Get began with Microsoft 365 as we speak.

1The 2022 report on the accessibility of the highest 1,000,000 dwelling pages, The WebAIM Million, WebAIM Initiatives, WebAIM. March 31, 2022.

2Making it simpler to create content material that everybody can use—what’s new in Microsoft 365 accessibility options for Winter 2022, Aleš Holeček, Microsoft Accessibility Weblog. January 20, 2022.

3Accessible Content material and Content material Creators Analysis, Microsoft. January 2021.


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