Microsoft has unveiled its most recent developments for accessibility and disability inclusion at this year’s Ability Summit. First, Microsoft 365 will receive an accessibility helper (formerly Microsoft Office). The goal is to assist creators in creating more approachable material.
Together with what Microsoft refers to as “improved defaults” and “real-time correction,” the assistant will make recommendations on how to prevent and address accessibility problems. The helper follows a Visual Studio accessibility checker. On a related point, Microsoft has made a manual (PDF) available to assist those who wish to build products with cognitive diversity in mind.
The Surface Pen will get 3D-printed attachments later this year; the Business Pen and Classroom Pen 2 already have them. For people with restricted mobility, the grips might make the pens simpler to handle so they can utilise the accessories with their Surface computers, said Microsoft.
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Microsoft provided more accessibility-focused enhancements built on the Azure platform in other places. Recently, a function was added to the Seeing AI app that uses spatial audio cues to guide blind and low vision users through a structure.
To automatically provide alt-text descriptions and captioning on LinkedIn, Azure Cognitive Services for vision will be used. Microsoft reports that at least one image appears in more than 40% of LinkedIn posts. Even while automatically produced descriptions won’t always be accurate, having any alt text is preferable to none.
Moreover, Microsoft Translator now supports 13 more African languages, including Igbo, Hausa, and Yoruba. Additionally, Microsoft claims that during the summit, it will explore some of the ways that Bing AI might improve accessibility.
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