Windows has always been pretty good when it comes to accessibility options, and Microsoft are looking to develop these helpful tools even further in Windows 8. We’ve always had the built in Narrator that can read text aloud and the magnifier which is used to zoom in and display content for those with trouble seeing. Not to mention the array of Voice Recognition commands that Windows has built into it. However Microsoft claim they’ve improved all of this in Windows 8.
In their latest post over at Building Windows 8 Microsoft have gone into great detail on how they’re adding new accessibility options and improving existing ones in Windows 8.
For a start the Narrator will help you with the installation of Windows 8, something that’s already integrated into the developer preview of Windows 8. There is also a redesigned built-in screen reader, improving performance speed while adding more languages and voices. The screen reader will now have the ability to read output from applications which aren’t actually part of Windows.
The voice assistant has also been beefed up and has improved processing speed as well as keyboard shortcuts to navigate during narration. You’ll even be able to create your own customizable voice commands.
And of course since Microsoft are focusing a lot on touch screen devices, Windows 8 has several new accessibility features which can be activated by touch. To start off you’ll be able to enable the narrator at any time by simply pressing the Windows key and Volume up. Then by tapping a certain part of the screen the Narrator will read out whatever text is underneath your finger.
You’ll also be able to pinch the screen with two fingers to zoom in at any time. Tapping the left and right borders at the same time will quickly zoom out to full screen and then you’ll be able to drag a small rectangle to the area you want to zoom in on.
And finally, Microsoft is also going to include a whole load of developer tools so that developers can easily integrate all these features into their programs as well.
“If you are a developer, build an accessible app and reach a larger spectrum of users! If you are an AT (assistive technologies) vendor, come work with us and refresh your applications using our platform. This is an exciting and compelling release that will change how people of all abilities interact with PCs.”
The majority of these new features are based around touch input, but then again that’s certainly much more accessible for those who find it difficult to navigate with a mouse or type on a keyboard.
Check out the full post for more detail and there’s also a video below you can watch