Microsoft aims to make its devices and software accessible for all users. 

Sarah Tew/CNET

Microsoft’s Windows 10 is about to get more accessible.

The company in a blog post said it plans to add more visual accessibility features in the next Windows 10 update. It aims to make it easier for more people to use Windows devices, even if the users have problems seeing the screens clearly. 

“We strive to make Windows more accessible to people of diverse abilities and recognize we have more work to create delightful experiences for everyone,” the company said on its blog. 

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The new additions include easier to navigate Ease of Access Settings and more improvements for Microsoft’s Narrator screen-reading app, as well as its eye control navigation abilities. Microsoft also is working with assistive technology partners to support new Windows 10 experiences and bring more apps to the Windows Store. 

Making devices more accessible has been a goal of Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. In 2015, he said accessibility was a core focus of the company and called on all teams to “embrace inclusion” in product design and company culture. Microsoft isn’t alone in trying to make devices usable for all consumers. Apple, Google, Facebook and Amazon also have made accessibility a priority. (You can read about other efforts in this area in our ongoing series, Tech Enabled.)

In terms of Narrator, Microsoft has made a host of improvements. The app will be more responsive because of changes in how key presses are processed. Microsoft said Narrator “will read controls more consistently and accurately, such as reading embedded objects like text boxes in Microsoft Word documents.” Microsoft also has improved navigation, as well as browsing in Microsoft Edge. And users will be able to emphasize text formatting, like bold and italics, by changing the speed, pitch or volume of the narration to emphasize the changes (in the past, it would read descriptions like “start bold” and “end bold.”)

Microsoft also has improved the eye-control features in Windows 10, making it easier to navigate with the addition of scrolling and direct left and right click capabilities. It has made it faster to access Windows Start, Timeline and Settings and has provided more flexibility to pause eye control. 

Tech Enabled: CNET chronicles tech’s role in providing new kinds of accessibility.

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