Get ready for a new content viewing experience on Microsoft 365

Onur Demirkol
Mar 9, 2023

Microsoft 365 will soon have an Accessibility Assistant, announced during the 2023 Ability Summit. The company presented its most recent innovations for accessibility and disability inclusion.

Microsoft introduced its initial efforts on the matter five years ago with Accessibility Checker. Now, it wants to improve the experience with the new Accessibility Assistant. It will help creators produce more accessible content with less effort.

"Over the past few years, we’ve been working to bring accessibility into the flow of content creation within Microsoft 365—to make checking accessibility as natural and simple as checking spelling and grammar," said Ales Holecek of Microsoft.

Compared to Accessibility Checker, the assistant will have three key innovations. It will have better defaults to prevent issues before they occur, real-time and in-context remediation to correct issues as they arise, and clear, simple guidance that appears in the flow of work.

The company has introduced a new color picker "that accounts for both creative license and the need for sufficient contrast between text and its background." One mode it offers is very similar to the current one but adds a tooltip to help you adjust contrast settings, while the other one narrows the color palette and gives you suitable options that meet contrast requirements. It also warns you ahead if you use a lower-contrast color that is difficult to see on your document.

Microsoft revealed multiple innovations during the 2023 Ability Summit that will offer better user experience on different aspects.

Apart from colors, the Accessibility Assistant will also help with your writing. "We will also be rolling out a new Accessibility Assistant pane later in 2023. The pane provides a clean, efficient interface like Microsoft Editor, with plain-language explanations that help you address entire categories of accessibility issues more easily," says Microsoft. It will do the same work as the Editor, and each issue it highlights will be linked to a text block where you can make changes to your copy. It is expected to roll out in the upcoming months.

The 2023 Ability Summit showcased more innovations and features other than the Accessibility Assistant. More languages for the translator app, Seeing AI app for mobile, and many more!


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