A quick guide to Windows 11 accessibility

Abhishek Baxi

Updated on:

Windows 11 Accessibility

Microsoft has been improving the accessibility features available on Windows progressively through the years. Accessible technology aims to unlock opportunities for people with disabilities across the world and help tackle the “disability divide.”

For Microsoft, Windows 11 is a significant step towards achieving seamless accessibility without costly plug-ins or time-consuming work by IT administrators. Here are some of the key features of Windows 11 to support users across the disability spectrum.

Inclusive design

Microsoft claims that Windows 11 is the most inclusively designed version of Windows since accessibility was considered from the start at the design stage. The product came about with inclusive design reviews of new and redesigned features.

Microsoft also employed Trusted Tester conformance tests, usability tests, and other processes to help ensure Windows 11 is accessible for people for people with disabilities. Trusted Tester, a common testing approach for accessibility compliance and conformity, provides a code-inspection based test approach for determining web content conformance and is used by the Department of Homeland Security Office of Accessible Systems & Technology in the United States.

Assistive technologies

Windows 11, of course, continues to offer familiar assistive technologies like Narrator, Magnifier, Closed Captions, and Windows Speech Recognition that we’ve seen in Windows 10. Again, Windows 11 also supports assistive technologies created by partners including popular screen readers, magnification programs, CART services, speech commanding, and other experiences.

Also, accessibility features are available in the out of box experience and on the Log on and Lock screens so that users can independently setup and use their devices.

Windows Voice Typing

Windows Voice Typing, which uses artificial intelligence to recognize speech, transcribe, and automatically punctuate text is useful for people with severe arthritis, repetitive stress injuries, cerebral palsy, and other mobility related disabilities. It also helps individuals with learning differences including with severe spelling disabilities as well as language learners.

Additionally, a lot of regular users too enjoy the speech-to-text functionality with Windows Voice Typing to type long passages of text just like one can use the Dictate feature in Microsoft Word.

Accessible Linux apps

Windows 11 also supports Linux GUI apps like gedit through the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) on devices that meet the app system requirements. And these experiences can be made accessible enabling a seamless assistive technology experience.

Accessibility Settings

In Windows 11, Microsoft has rebranded Ease of Access to Accessibility in the Settings section. There’s a new accessibility “human” icon too. The new redesign also makes it easier to find and use all the accessibility features.

Windows 11 Accessibility

Microsoft says that the company is working closely with assistive technology industry leaders to co-engineer what it calls the “modern accessibility platform” to increase application developer agility. The company now offers new APIs that helps developers improve the communication between assistive technologies and applications to augment Windows 11 accessibility overall.