Microsoft's focus remains on empowering all kinds of people to do more and Microsoft Narrator has been one of the primary ways that Windows has been able to make that happen. For those who don't know, Microsoft Narrator is the screen reader built into Windows that verbalize items on screen, making it so the visually impaired can still have an idea of what's happening on screen. To make Narrator better than ever, the newest Windows 10 preview builds are adding tons of significant updates to the software tool.
Here's the list of features coming to the new build:
- Scan Mode
- Verbose modes
- Punctuation modes
- Faster text to speech Voices
- AutoSuggest Announcements
Some of these new additions are self-explanatory - Faster voices, varying levels of punctuation dictation, and the addition of AutoSuggest dictation are all relatively small additions. Scan mode and the addition of Verbose modes are the most important updates, this time around, bringing entirely new functionality to the screen reader.
Scan mode allows users to scroll through their webpage with the up and down arrows, using the space bar to select the item that they've highlighted. You can also scan tables in Excel with more ease by navigating individual cells. When you're done using Scan mode, you can toggle it off the same way you turned enabled it - pressing caps lock and the space bar together drops you in and out of the mode whenever you like.
Verbose modes are ascending levels of dictation, starting at 0 and going up to 5. By setting your Verbose level, you can have Microsoft Narrator tell you different sets of information, with Verbose level 0 just reading off text as it is and further levels reading off information like font size, paragraph indentation, and more.
These changes are currently experienced in Windows 10 Preview Build 14328 or newer, and may offer vision impaired users a much smoother experience.