Microsoft has announced a new Accessibility Assistant for Microsoft 365 office software in an effort to make its products more accessible to more people.
Announced at the annual Ability Summit (opens in new tab)Microsoft also unveiled a host of accessible hardware, improvements to existing products and services, and developments in other areas of its business, including LinkedIn.
This all comes at a time when the company is fully committed to artificial intelligence, busy rolling out OpenAI and internal AI tools across nearly all of its online services to help improve employee efficiency.
Microsoft Accessibility Assistant
Microsoft claims the new Accessibility Assistant is as simple as a spell checker and is designed to help create more accessible content. It provides better defaults, real-time recovery, and guidance to prevent and resolve accessibility issues. Accessibility Assistant also made its way to the Visual Studio development environment earlier this year.
The company also announced the rollout of its 3D-printed attachments and grips for the Surface Pen later this year. This enhancement is already available to business customers using the Microsoft Business Pen and Microsoft Classroom Pen 2 and will benefit significantly more users who have access to supported Surface devices.
The Translator tool also received a useful upgrade, with 13 additional languages added, bringing the total number of speech-to-text supported languages to 125.
Other improvements across the board include automatic alt text for images posted to LinkedIn using Azure Cognitive Services, improvements to the see AI (opens in new tab) app designed to help blind and visually impaired people navigate their environment, and a new Guide to inclusive design for cognition (opens in new tab).
The company’s latest changes cover the latest operating system – Windows 11 – with improvements to the built-in screen reader, narrator and additional support for more braille displays.