Microsoft details accessibility features in Windows 8

Microsoft has detailed several accessibility improvements in the company’s upcoming operating system in a new Building Windows 8 blog post. Windows 8 will have an improved Narrator as well as an accessible install and setup process.

“We want all users to be able to experience Windows 8 Metro style apps on their desktops, laptops, or the new touch-capable devices. This includes people with disabilities who rely on assistive technologies to use the PC,” Microsoft stated in an official blog post.

Microsoft focused on three goals for Windows 8. First, the company wants to improve the assistive technologies that are components of Windows 8, and provide a good experience with the Metro style UI. Second, Microsoft wants to provide developer tools that have baseline accessibility built in, so that accessible Metro style apps are available in the Store. And finally, the company hopes to engage assistive technology vendors to adopt Windows 8 and build upon the accessibility scenarios.

Microsoft has made it accessible to install, set up, and configure your Windows 8 installation as well as improved the web browser to have an accessible Narrator. The company also made the following accessibility improvements in Windows 8:

  • We redesigned Narrator to improve its performance so that it quickly reads out what you have selected.
  • We added morel languages and voices to Narrator to support additional countries and preferences.
  • We updated components and features within Windows to leverage UI Automation that allows them to be read by Narrator.
  • We updated UI Automation (UIA) with more text patterns and document content so that Narrator can use it to read the outputs from applications.

You can read the full blog post in depth and also take a look at some screenshots depicting accessibility improvements in Windows 8. You can also view a quick video demonstration below:

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