Inaccessible content material is in all places within the digital world. Almost 97 p.c of house pages on the general public net comprise points like lacking picture descriptions, movies with out captions, and hard-to-read textual content colours that cut 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 maintain our colleagues and coworkers from doing their jobs successfully, stop college students from getting essentially the most out of their schooling, and hinder authors from reaching their broadest doable viewers. All of us share the duty of breaking down these boundaries by making our personal content material accessible—however usually that’s simpler stated than completed.
Over the previous few years, we’ve been working to carry 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
At this time, I’m excited to announce a significant step towards that purpose with the introduction of Accessibility Assistant in Microsoft 365, a robust set of instruments that can assist creators produce extra accessible content material with much less effort—and all inside your pure stream of labor.
Highly effective instruments allow you to work, study, manage, join, and create.
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 preserving you within the stream of labor. Increasing on the prevailing Accessibility Checker, Accessibility Assistant introduces three key improvements: higher defaults to forestall points earlier than they happen, real-time and in-context remediation to appropriate points as they come up, and clear, easy steerage that seems within the stream of labor. Let’s take a more in-depth look.
Make extra accessible selections by default
With Accessibility Assistant, we’re bringing the identical philosophy we observe in growing our merchandise to the artwork of content material creation: the easiest way to unravel a problem is to forestall 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 stunning and accessible. To assist our clients 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 adequate distinction between textual content and its background.
The brand new colour picker expertise has two modes. One appears a lot the identical as earlier than however provides a tooltip to assist information you towards colours with adequate 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).
Determine 1. New colour picker expertise in Microsoft Phrase.
Study and repair within the stream of labor
Our clients inform us they’re enthusiastic about making content material accessible however that our instruments don’t make it as simple 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. Any such workflow helps creators keep away from attending to the tip of a venture and discovering an enormous listing of points that may take time and vitality to repair.
We embraced this suggestion with Accessibility Assistant. To carry that very same degree of immediacy and ease to the accessibility house, we’ve carried out a brand new sort of flag to name consideration to accessibility points when you write.
Determine 2. Contextual flagging of textual content distinction points in Microsoft Phrase.
The primary class of concern these flags will tackle is low distinction between textual content and background—essentially the most frequent accessibility concern we see in Microsoft Phrase paperwork. When you choose a textual content colour that doesn’t meet commonplace distinction tips, a small accessibility icon seems within the margin. And identical to with the purple 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 assist creators of all talents and preferences, it’s vital to acknowledge that some authors desire to carry off on making revisions till they’re completed writing. In an inside examine of content material creators, we discovered an almost even cut up amongst those that most well-liked to test spelling and grammar whereas they work (28 p.c), on the finish (19 p.c), and each all through and on the finish (31 p.c).3
Determine 3. When spelling and grammar are checked primarily based on inside analysis.
To assist the mixed 50 p.c of creators who wish to test for points on the finish, we can even be rolling out a brand new Accessibility Assistant pane later in 2023. The pane supplies a clear, environment friendly interface like Microsoft Editor, with plain-language explanations that allow you to tackle total classes of accessibility points extra simply. As you click on by way of the listing, you’re taken on to the placement of every concern whereas the pane recommends an answer—no specialist information mandatory.
Determine 4. Accessibility Assistant pane in Microsoft Phrase.
Begin creating extra accessible content material at the moment
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 inside Phrase on Home windows, with extra apps and experiences to observe.
Over time, Accessibility Assistant will totally exchange the Accessibility Checker throughout the core Microsoft 365 Apps. Because it does so, it can prolong to cowl a broader vary of points and can incorporate extra 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 at the moment to be among the many first to strive the Accessibility Assistant, and be sure you tell us what you assume utilizing the suggestions device within the app. And there’s no want to attend—you possibly can go to our assist web site at the moment to study extra about methods to begin making your content material accessible in Microsoft 365, subscribe to my quarterly updates to observe the newest developments, or attain out to Microsoft’s Incapacity Reply Desk to offer suggestions and entry devoted assist.
Get began with Microsoft 365 at the moment.
1The 2022 report on the accessibility of the highest 1,000,000 house pages, The WebAIM Million, WebAIM Tasks, 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.