Microsoft Office 2010 Accessibility Features
By Ellen Kampel
Accessible technology (AT) can help individuals living with MS maintain their independence and relationships by alleviating some of the physical, cognitive and visual challenges that operating a computer may pose. The newly released Microsoft Office 2010 includes many new accessibility features that aim to help users overcome these challenges.
As you will read below, some of the most useful tools will help make computer screens easier to read for those with poor vision, enable individuals with dexterity challenges to perform tasks with less effort, and ensure all computer users can more easily access and understand their computer’s content.
These accessibility features include:
Full Screen Reading – Word 2010 includes a “full screen reading” option that allows users to increase text size and sharpness to avoid eye strain, which can be painful for many people living with MS.
Ribbons and Keyboards – The menus and toolbars in all Office 2010 products have been replaced with “ribbons”–command bars that organize program features into a series of tabs at the top of a window. Individuals can now navigate these tabs using their keyboard arrows instead of having to move a mouse—which can be difficult for those with dexterity challenges.
More Accessible Mode – Windows SharePoint Services software has a new feature called “more accessible mode.” This feature allows users to modify certain custom controls, such as drop-down menus. For example, if a screen reader cannot read the options in a drop-down menu out loud, the user can turn on “more accessible mode,” and a new browser window will open containing the menu items as hyperlinks.
Accessibility Checker – This feature is designed to help individuals better understand how they can create and design user-friendly content. The checker identifies areas within a document, chart or slide that might be challenging for users to view or use, and then shows the designer how to make the document more accessible by adding different text to a picture, for example. This may help those who have trouble looking at the image because of size, color or quality.
In addition to these features, Office 2010 offers color and sound options, size and zoom options, and keyboard shortcuts for all of its components, including Access, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint and Word. Click here to read more about how you can use all of the accessibility features in each program.