Microsoft discuss new Windows 8 accessibility enhancements

About 15% of the world’s population has a disability1. In the United States alone, 49.6 million people have a disability2 and 45 million in Europe3. When it comes to interacting with computers, these disabilities affect individuals in a number of ways:

  • Visual impairments include color vision deficiency, low-vision and blindness – all of which may impact the individual’s ability to see content displayed on the screen.
  • Mobility impairments include arthritis, cerebral palsy, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and paraplegia, which impact the ability to use the keyboard and/or mouse to interact with the PC.
  • Hearing impairments include conditions ranging from mild hearing loss to total deafness, and impact the individual’s ability to experience audio content generated by the computer.
  • Cognitive impairments impact an individual’s learning and language skills, the ability to comprehend words, and difficulty with memory, solving problems, or perceiving sensory information.
Then they outline their accesibility goals:
Our accessibility goals in Windows 8 are to:
  1. Improve the assistive technologies that are components of Windows, and provide a good experience with the Metro style UI.
  2. Provide developer tools that have baseline accessibility built in, so that accessible Metro style apps are available in the Store.
  3. Engage assistive technology vendors (ATVs) to adopt Windows 8 and build upon the accessibility scenarios.
Here are some of the improvements they made (are making) in Windows 8 to improve accessibility:
  • 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.
The post goes into more detail (obviously) and they included a video. You can read the full post here]]>

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