Today marks Global Accessibility Awareness Day, and Microsoft is using the day as an opportunity to give the public a look into all the accessibility features coming to the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update. Among upcoming accessibility improvements coming to the next major Windows 10 update, Microsoft is also announcing that Assistive technology users will be able to switch from Windows 10 S to Windows 10 Pro for free.
The Redmond giant is working closely with assistive technology partners to improve their experiences with Windows 10 and to bring more assistive technology apps in the Windows Store. As part of this effort, Microsoft wants to meet the needs of people with disabilities and provide choices for devices and modes for operating Windows: that’s why the company will allow assistive technology users to switch to Windows 10 Pro from Windows 10 S at no charge. Microsoft explains:
We believe Windows 10 S is great for many customers. Others may prefer Windows Home or Windows Pro to meet their needs. Microsoft is committed to meeting the needs of people with disabilities and providing choices for devices and modes for operating Windows. We will provide assistive technology users with a switch to Windows 10 Pro from Windows 10 S at no charge as we continue to improve our built-in assistive technology and bring more assistive technology apps to the Microsoft Store.
Also announced are improvements to the narrator, the built-in screen reader, improvements for low vision users, and new features that make it easier for everyone to read and write. The narrator will include the ability to send commands from a keyboard, touch or braille display, and more. You can have a peek at these changes by reading below:
- Usability improvements – Narrator will read controls more accurately and consistently, will include Scan Mode turned on by default (and remember whether Scan Mode is turned on or off in apps across sessions), and will read apps like Settings and Weather like a web page. Narrator continues to make progress toward a unified interaction model, where Windows apps and web pages can be navigated with a consistent set of commands so that Narrator is easy to learn and use without having to remember a large set of keyboard shortcuts.
- Braille improvements – Narrator users can type and read using different braille translations. Users can also perform braille input for application shortcuts and modifier keys, which enables users to employ their braille display to perform common tasks such as pressing ALT + TAB to switch between active applications or pressing CTRL + B to bold text.
- Automatically generated image descriptions – Narrator will include the ability to use artificial intelligence to generate descriptions for images that lack alternative text on demand. The service includes the ability to extract text from images using optical character recognition.
Again, these are just a quick peek at the accessibility changes coming to the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update. You can dive into all the details by checking this Microsoft web page. Do you know anyone that will take advantage of this new technology? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!