Windows 8 accessibility

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Wednesday, 26 September 2012 09:50am

The latest version of Microsoft Windows, Windows 8, is due for release in late October 2012 and is radically different to its predecessors. The main difference is that Windows 8 has been developed for both traditional computers and touchscreen devices such as tablets.

Like Apple and Google Android operating systems, Windows 8 includes an app store, allowing users to easily download additional software. Unlike Apple and Android, however, the Windows Store lets users search only for apps which the developer has certified as accessible.

A version of Windows 8 for tablets, called Windows RT, only allows software from the Windows Store to be installed.

Windows 8 also has a number of enhanced accessibility features to make web browsing, entertainment and work applications easier to use for people with a disability.

The built-in accessibility features have been updated to work with touchscreen devices. In addition, some new features have been added to make it easier for a user to have accessibility features start when the computer starts.

The following assistive features have been updated or introduced:

  • Narrator: improved performance, extra language support, new voices, better application support  and touch-enabled 
  • Magnifier: support for high contrast colour schemes and a new interface for touchscreen devices
  • Sign-in settings: allows the user to select which built-in accessibility features launch as the computer starts up
  • Accessible apps: the new Windows Store feature in Windows 8 allows the user to search only for apps which the developer has certified as accessible. There are also features that can help developers create accessible applications.

Instructions for how to enable accessibility features in Windows 8 are available in your Digital Technology section.

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