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Microsoft Set to Add Accessibility Enhancements in Windows 10

May 21, 2020

Microsoft has shared the latest accessibility enhancements it's working on for Windows 10. To start, the company is adding additional customization options that will allow you to adjust the width of the operating system’s cursor. Similarly, you'll be able to add a text indicator and customize the shade of the cursor using either a couple of pre-selected options or a custom color.

To compliment those changes, there are a couple of related tweaks coming to Magnifier. If you're not familiar with the feature, it allows users to zoom in on parts of the display to make text and icons more legible. By default, Magnifier will now follow the text cursor in the center of the screen. With a new set of controls, the tool will be able to read text aloud so that those who depend on the feature can avoid eye strain, fatigue and headaches.

On that note, Narrator, Windows 10's built-in screen reader, is likewise getting a couple of enhancements. To start, Microsoft says it has made the tool sound more natural by reducing the number of pauses it makes when reading a section of text. The company claims Narrator is also better at correctly pronouncing words thanks to the fact it will now process text one complete sentence at a time. If you depend on the audio cues Narrator gives to make the most of its functionality, Microsoft says it has created new sounds for the most common actions you'll make while using the tool. At the same time, there are fewer total sounds. The idea here was to reduce the number of cues someone has to remember to use and master the feature.

Additionally, there are a couple of enhancements to look forward to when using Narrator in conjunction with a web browser and Outlook. In both app types, Narrator will now, by default, automatically start reading from the top of the page. Microsoft made this tweak to give additional feedback that a webpage has successfully loaded. Another enhancement will see Narrator better able to handle links tied to phrases like "click here." In those instances, you'll be able to press your Narrator hotkey, ctrl, and d to get the tool to read the title of the inline link. Handily, that's the same shortcut you can use to get an image description.

If you depend on Windows 10's accessibility features, you can look forward to trying out the enhancements Microsoft detailed today when the company starts rolling out the May 2020 update later this month.

Source: Engadget