Microsoft Office Online Sees Increased Accessibility

Microsoft Office Online Sees Increased Accessibility

Although Office Online was designed with accessibility in mind, upgrades are always needed for continuous improvement. These started with Office Online utilizing WAI-ARIA(Web Accessibility Initiative - Accessible Rich Internet Applications), which is a new accessibility standard for blind or low vision web users. Of course, this was just the start. More recently, users are finding all kinds of new tools and features that increase their ability to use Office Online products despite their need for assistance. Microsoft has made a conscious effort to make their products more user-friendly for people with disabilities.  Enhancements are focused on giving everyone a level playing field to maximize the use of Office products and software.

Microsoft Narrator


The Features

“Narrator” is a one new feature that people are utilizing to navigate documents easier. This tool announces formatting information as you move around with the arrow keys.  It can help provide information on tables, headings, lists, and other formatting features. This can be enabled simply by pressing the Windows Key and Enter at the same time. Another great feature is cursor-less reading, which is already available on many e-readers. Narrator includes a shortcut to “Start Reading” which will read the document from your current location through to the end.  To enable this, simply use the shortcut; Caps Lock + M.

“Tell Me” is another new timesaving feature that is offered in Office Online. This capability includes a resource box at the top of the page that displays “Tell me what you want to do” with a light bulb. All you need to do is type in what you want the app to do. Forget about searching through menus and ribbons to find the exact formatting tool or command that you want. Now you can just type in something like “replace”, and the find and replace box will come up on the screen. You don’t need to know the exact language, as a drop down menu will show all the related keywords so you can narrow down your search. 

The Info

In addition to all of the new features for accessibility in Microsoft Office Online, there is also a library of information on the different apps and their features. Common tasks and accessibility features are covered in this library, as are shortcuts for various features and commands. It’s all about making Office Online easier for everyone. For other keyboard shortcuts or accessibility features, click here

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