4 stories

Windows 10 Insider build 16215 brings several new Accessibility features

As you may know, Microsoft released today the Windows 10 preview build 16215 for Fast Ring Insiders and this one is a really feature-packed update. There is literally something for everyone in the new bits, and Microsoft also introduces today some new accessibility features including Narrator and Braille improvements, new color filters and more. You can find all the details below:

Narrator Improvements:

  • Scan Mode on By Default: The largest change that you will experience is that Scan Mode is now on by default. This means that:
    • Up and Down Arrows to get through everything: You can simply use the up and down arrow keys to get through all of the content of your application.
    • Press Space to Interact: To interact with simple controls (such as buttons, checkboxes, toggle buttons etc. you can press the space bar).
    • Editbox Switching: If you navigate to an edit field using the up and down arrows, Narrator will automatically turn off Scan Mode so that you can type into the edit field. When you are ready to exit the edit field you can use the up and down arrows to exit the edit field and Narrator will turn scan mode back on.
    • Turn off Scan Mode with Caps + Space: If you want to turn off scan mode, and want to get back to the old way of doing things, press Caps + Space. It will be turned off for that app and you will hear “Off”.
    • Remembering the state of scan mode by application: If you explicitly turn off scan mode, by pressing Caps + Space in an application, this choice will be saved in an exceptions list so that when you reopen the application Scan Mode is off. To remove this application from the exceptions list you can press Caps + Space again
    • Left and Right Arrow to move by character: Left and right arrows will move you by character
  • Since Scan Mode is now on by default, we’ve removed the popup dialog when first launching Narrator explaining how to start scan mode.
  • Narrator Input learning: This will allow you to learn the keys on your device. Narrator will tell you the key that you have pressed, and the Narrator command associated with it. This mode can be turned on and off with Caps + 1.
  • New and improved hotkeys:
    • To read from where you currently are through the rest of the application you can press Caps + R for Read.
    • To jump to the beginning of an application you can now press Caps + Home and to jump to the end of an application you can press Caps + End.
    • The read window command, Caps + W also had some improvements in this release. Caps + W will now read both the controls in the window and the text.
  • Narrator Getting Started User Guide: There is now a button in the main Narrator UI to the Narrator User Guide located here, where you can find more information about scan mode and all of the Scan Mode commands.

Braille improvements:

Narrator users can type and read using different braille translations, choose a blinking cursor representation, and choose the duration of “flash messages”. You can also now perform braille input for app shortcuts and modifier keys, which enables you to use your braille display for common tasks such as:

  • Pressing the Tab key
  • Pressing the Escape key
  • Pressing the Windows key
  • Pressing sequences like Win + U to open Ease of Access Settings
  • Pressing sequences like Alt + F to open the file menu
  • Pressing sequences like Ctrl + S to save
  • Pressing sequences like Ctrl + Alt + N
  • Using first letter navigation in lists
  • And more!

For the app shortcuts, there are also new commands to perform that input. Here’s a list of example commands (Braille dots = Keyboard input):

  • Space + dot4 + dot5 = Tab key (Tab key)
  • Space + dot1 + dot2 = Shift + Tab key (Set skipping of blank braille windows on/off)
  • Space + dot2 + dot3 + dot4 + dot5 = Alt + Tab key (Set track screen cursor on/off)
  • Space + dot2 + dot4 + dot5 + dot6 = Windows key (Set sliding braille windows on/off)
  • Space + dot1 + dot2 + dot3 + dot5 = Windows + Tab key (Set autorepeat on/off)
  • Space + Routing Key 1 – 12 = F1 – F12 keys
  • Dot7 = Backspace key
  • Dot8 = Enter key
  • Space + dot2 + dot6 = Escape key
  • Space + dot3 = Cursor left key
  • Space + dot6 = Cursor right key
  • Space + dot1 = Cursor up key
  • Space + dot4 = Cursor down key
  • Space + dot2 + dot3 = Page up key
  • Space + dot5 + dot6 = Page down key
  • Space + dot2 = Home key
  • Space + dot5 = End key
  • Space + dot3 + dot5 = Insert key
  • Space + dot2 + dot5 + dot6 = Delete key

Inject and hold one or more modifier keys followed by another letter or key:

  • Space + dot8 + dot1 = Hold Windows key
  • Space + dot8 + dot2 = Hold Alt key
  • Space + dot8 + dot3 = Hold Ctrl key
  • Space + dot8 + dot4 = Hold Shift key
  • Space + dot8 + dot5 = Hold AltGr key
  • Space + dot8 + dot6 = Hold Caps Lock key
  • Space + dot8 + dot7 = Un-hold all modifiers

Introducing Color filters:

Windows 10 now includes color filters at the system level, including filters designed to make it easier for people with color blindness to differentiate between colors like red and green and to make it easier for people with light sensitivity to create and consume content. You can find these new filtering options under Settings > Ease of Access > Color and High Contrast” (previously called High Contrast Settings).

Magnifier UI improvements:

We’ve updated the Magnifier zoom in and out buttons to have a more modern style.

Note: You’ll notice a new “Enable bitmap smoothing” option in Magnifier Settings. This feature isn’t functioning yet, but we’ll let you know when it is.

These are all very welcome improvements, which show that Microsoft is staying true to its promise to empower everyone to achieveme more. If you use accessibility features on Windows 10, let us know what do you think of these latest additions in the comments.


Further reading: , , , , ,

What do you think of these new accessibility features?