Inaccessible content material is all over the place within the digital world. Practically 97 p.c of residence pages on the general public net include 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 on daily basis. This creates obstacles that hold our colleagues and coworkers from doing their jobs successfully, stop college students from getting essentially the most out of their training, and hinder authors from reaching their broadest attainable viewers. All of us share the accountability of breaking down these obstacles by making our personal content material accessible—however usually that’s simpler mentioned than achieved.
Over the previous few years, we’ve been working to deliver 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
In the present day, 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.
Highly effective instruments show you how to work, be taught, set up, 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 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 growing our merchandise to the artwork of content material creation: one of the best ways to resolve a problem 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 stunning and accessible. To assist our clients navigate this problem, we’re introducing a brand new coloration picker in Microsoft 365 Apps that accounts for each artistic license and the necessity for ample distinction between textual content and its background.
The brand new coloration picker expertise has two modes. One seems 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 accessible coloration choices that meet distinction necessities (plus a further row of accessible choices that align with the chosen theme and design).
Determine 1. New coloration picker expertise in Microsoft Phrase.
Be taught and repair within the stream of labor
Our clients inform us they’re obsessed with making content material accessible however that our instruments don’t make it as straightforward because it may very well 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 top of a venture and discovering an enormous checklist of points that will take time and power to repair.
We embraced this suggestion with Accessibility Assistant. To deliver that very same stage of immediacy and ease to the accessibility area, we’ve got carried out a brand new kind 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 situation these flags will handle is low distinction between textual content and background—essentially the most frequent accessibility situation we see in Microsoft Phrase paperwork. When you choose a textual content coloration that doesn’t meet customary distinction pointers, a small accessibility icon seems within the margin. And identical to with the crimson squiggles of the spellchecker, clicking the icon brings up a contextual card that can assist you make a fast correction and transfer on.
Right accessibility points extra simply
In step with our mission to make Microsoft 365 help creators of all skills and preferences, it’s essential to acknowledge that some authors favor to carry off on making revisions till they’re completed writing. In an inside examine of content material creators, we discovered a virtually even cut up amongst those that most well-liked to verify 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 based mostly on inside analysis.
To help the mixed 50 p.c of creators who prefer to verify 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 show you how to handle total classes of accessibility points extra simply. As you click on via the checklist, you might be taken on to the placement of every situation whereas the pane recommends an answer—no specialist information obligatory.
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 are going to begin rolling out Accessibility Assistant. We are going to work with the Microsoft 365 Insiders neighborhood to validate and finetune the expertise within Phrase on Home windows, with extra apps and experiences to comply with.
Over time, Accessibility Assistant will absolutely change the Accessibility Checker throughout the core Microsoft 365 Apps. Because it does so, it’s going to lengthen 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 part of the Microsoft 365 Insider Program as we speak to be among the many first to strive the Accessibility Assistant, and make sure you tell us what you assume utilizing the suggestions instrument within the app. And there’s no want to attend—you’ll be able to go to our help website as we speak to be taught extra about the best way to begin making your content material accessible in Microsoft 365, subscribe to my quarterly updates to comply with the most recent 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 residence 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.