Windows 8 to come with enhanced accessibility

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Monday, 20 February 2012 15:15pm

Microsoft has announced a number of significant accessibility improvements to its upcoming Windows 8 operating system. This is further reassurance that the software giant has considered the needs of people with a disability in the development of its latest product.

Originally discussed in our test of the Windows 8 developer preview, Microsoft has been working towards improving a number of built-in tools already found in Windows such as Narrator and Magnifier, while also adding in support for Windows to be installed and set up by people with disabilities.

The features which Microsoft is working towards include:

  • A redesigned Narrator screen reader to improve performance so that it quickly reads out what the user has selected
  • More language and voice options for Narrator
  • Updated components and features within Windows to leverage UI Automation (UIA) that allows them to be read by Narrator
  • UIA with more text patterns and document content so that Narrator can use it to read the outputs from applications

The help ensure that the accessibility features are compatible with the new Metro-style touch screen interface and to make the in-built assistive technologies more usable. 

While many of the new features will be present in the upcoming consumer preview of Windows 8, the accessibility team are continuing to develop the interface and additional improvements will be present when Windows 8 is launched possibly in the second half of the year.

The full announcement can be found on Microsoft’s MSDN Blog.

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