10 Microsoft 365 Accessibility Features Driving Inclusion in the Digital Age

An office building angled from below, showing a blue sky and the Microsoft name and logo in the foreground.What would your life be like without the cloud? At this point, many of us couldn’t do our jobs properly without access to cloud applications. We log into cloud-delivered apps to send email, access files and meet virtually with coworkers and clients. Virtually all organizations (99 percent) utilize at least one public or private cloud, according to the Flexera 2021 State of the Cloud Report.

Among the cloud apps businesses leverage to drive productivity from anywhere, the Microsoft 365 suite has become particularly popular due to its ability to keep remote and mobile workers connected with applications like Teams, Outlook, SharePoint and OneDrive.

As the cloud and Microsoft 365 have become vital tools for many businesses, it’s become clear that the suppliers and developers of these technologies must prioritize accessibility to avoid excluding people living with disabilities. In an April 2021 blog post titled “Doubling down on accessibility: Microsoft’s next steps to expand accessibility in technology, the workforce and workplace,” Microsoft President Brad Smith noted the need to focus on inclusivity, describing individuals with disabilities as “one of world’s largest untapped talent pools.”

“We believe that accessible technology is a fundamental building block that can unlock opportunities in every part of society,” Smith wrote. “Our work starts by ensuring that Microsoft’s own products are accessible by design, so that as we advance our features and functionality, we can help everyone across the spectrum of disability be more productive.”

In line with the supplier’s commitment to creating opportunities for everyone, the Microsoft 365 suite provides features to make its applications as accessible as possible. Here are a few notable ones:

1. Integration with screen readers and keyboards.

End users with low or no vision can use keyboard shortcuts and screen readers to navigate Microsoft 365 apps.

2. Outlook preference reminders.

You can utilize a MailTip in Outlook on the web to prompt your colleagues to run Accessibility Checker before sending you a message.

3. Tell Me feature to bypass the command ribbon.

This capability allows for quick access to commands in some applications.

4. Video captions.

Sway and PowerPoint allow end users to add captions to their presentations.

5. Automatic subtitles.

Presentation Translator – an add-in for PowerPoint for PCs – delivers autogenerated subtitles in over 60 supported languages.

6. Automatic video captions.

Microsoft Stream can automatically generate searchable transcripts and closed captions in Spanish and English.

7. Ability to convert paper documents into digital ones.

With Office Lens, you can turn a print page into digital content that you can export, search and read aloud via Immersive Reader.

8. Focused reading features.

Immersive Reader can not only read text out loud for you but can also highlight the words it’s reading. On top of that, the tool allows you to adjust the spacing between letters, words and lines as well as focus on only one line at a time.

9. Speech-to-text.

The Dictate capability in PowerPoint, Word and Outlook for PCs allows you to turn your spoken words into written ones.

10. Text editing.

The Editor feature in Word and Outlook for PCs helps catch misspelled words, grammatical errors and potential style problems.

For more information and an exhaustive list of the accessibility features included in the Microsoft 365 suite, please visit the Microsoft website.

If you’d like to learn more about Microsoft 365, our team has extensive experience working with the suite and helping our clients maximize their return on investment with Microsoft licensing audits. For details, just give us a call at 877-599-3999 or email sales@stratospherenetworks.com.

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