Here are some of the improvements we’ve made to accessibility in Microsoft 365 over the past few months.
Enable inclusive, flexible Microsoft Teams meetings
Online meetings are a staple of hybrid work – and we’ve gotten some great feedback from the deaf and hard of hearing community about how they could be improved. While we still have some way to go on this journey, Microsoft Teams has rolled out several features that enhance the meeting experience for deaf and hard of hearing people and increase flexibility and focus for everyone.
Use live captions to help meeting attendees follow along
One way to make meetings more inclusive for participants who are deaf or hard of hearing – as well as those working in noisy or quiet environments – is by using captioning and transcription tools to translate the spoken content of the meeting into text. In Microsoft Teams, participants using the desktop or mobile apps can turn on live captions that only they can see during a meeting, so long as the feature has been enabled by the organization’s admin. Over the past quarter, we have continued to expand live captions by broadening support for speaker attribution, increasing the number of languages covered to 28, and extending the feature beyond meetings to Live Events.
Like live captions, live transcription converts speech to text in near real time and identifies each speaker. Unlike captioning, transcription is available both during and after the meeting. If your admin has enabled both transcription and recording, live transcription will begin automatically when participant starts recording the meeting, conveniently capturing the discussion and detailing what was spoken in the transcript with one click. Transcription can also be turned on without recording. Live transcripts can also be reviewed after the meeting, providing an opportunity to catch up on items you may have missed. Learn more about how to view live transcriptions in a Teams meeting.
Enable a more accessible experience in Outlook
Hybrid work isn’t all about video calls. Email remains one of the most popular ways to collaborate. That’s why we’ve been adding Outlook features like intelligent writing assistance, powerful dictation features, and contextual accessibility reminders to make creating and reading email a better experience for everyone.
Compose emails confidently with Editor
Writing concise, effective, and appropriate emails can be challenging for those with learning disabilities and certain kinds of neurodivergence. Editor in Outlook for Windows is designed to help you get your message across more effectively and give you more confidence as a writer and communicator. Editor shows not only spelling and grammar suggestions, but also refinements to improve clarity, conciseness, inclusiveness, and more.
Dictate emails with voice commands and auto punctuation
Outlook for Windows and Mac – along with Word – also now supports powerful dictation and voice command functionality. Dictating email can be much easier than typing for people with vision or mobility impairments – and is a modern user interface for everyone. Our latest voice command updates can help you accomplish even more with just your voice, including adding recipients to the email, adding a subject line, mentioning (@name) someone in a message, and sending the mail. You can also tell Outlook to delete, bold, or italicize text, or turn on auto punctuation to eliminate the need to say things like “period” or “comma.” Read more about how to dictate your emails in Outlook.
Get reminded to make your emails more accessible
Just as important as making Outlook itself more accessible is making sure that the emails that you write in Outlook are accessible to your recipients. That’s why earlier this year we introduced an accessibility checker MailTip to automatically prompt you when inaccessible content – like yellow text on a white background or an image without alt text – is detected while composing email, and help you fix the issue. To learn more about best practices for creating accessible email in Outlook, see Make your Outlook email accessible to people with disabilities.