Part 01 – Technology: A tool for all

Written by Dan Burling

12th May 2020

Top accessibility features in Microsoft Teams

Global Accessibility Awareness day on 21st May 2020 is a day to raise awareness focusing on digital access and inclusion for more than one billion people with a disability. With the current Covid-19 situation changing the way we work it could prove to be a watershed moment for people with disabilities. Being inclusive is not only the ethical thing to do, it also raises productivity.

Microsoft Teams enables a more inclusive workplace. A series of three blog posts will highlight the tools for permanent, temporary and situational accessibility features in Microsoft Teams. Starting with tools that help people with permanent disabilities and aid their productivity.

Keyboard shortcuts for Microsoft Teams (Mobility)

Using keyboard shortcuts within Microsoft Teams may be familiar to savvy or power users, allowing them to squeeze that extra piece of productivity from their tools. But did you know that for users with mobility or other accessibility needs, keyboard shortcuts are often an essential alternative to using a mouse. Or where otherwise navigating an application may be difficult.

Screen reader support topics for Microsoft Teams (Vision)

Not many people know about the screen reader. This is built into Microsoft applications including Microsoft Teams. It’s handy if you need that extra focus with a “read aloud” voice to better consume content. However, for users who are visually impaired, the screen reader can be a main source of information consumption.

Customise the reading and viewing experience for different visual and cognitive needs (Visual, Neurodiversity)

We can also take consuming information visually to the next level with immersive reader. We can change and instantly remove page clutter, focussing purely on important content. Background colours can be adjusted to make text stand out and increase the size of the font. It can adjust reading preferences to increase line spacing or split words by syllable or other parts of speech depending on how the user best processes information.

Ensure Microsoft Office content is easy for all people to read and edit (Vision, Hearing, Neurodiversity, Mobility)

Whether you have an accessibility need or not, we should all be mindful of the needs of others. Users can insert “Mail Tips” into Outlook so others are notified when inputting their email address of their accessible needs. We can then use the accessibility checker within the Office 365 app to check that content is correctly accessible to users, available for screen readers to read words and that images have alternative tags etc.

Dark, light and high contrast themes (Vision)

The new dark theme may be a trend hitting users of technology products. But it’s not all about “looking cool” and trying to save that extra 5% of battery power by reducing screen consumption. Dark theme across the Microsoft Teams application can be vital in reducing screen glare and strain on eyesight.

Use text telephone (Hearing, Mobility)

Microsoft Teams also goes as far as supporting special assistive external hardware. Have a text telephone? You can join your next Microsoft Teams online meeting and join in the conversation.

Break down the barriers today and use accessibility to empower every person in your organisation to achieve more. Speak to one of our experts and find out how Sei Mani can help support your accessibility needs today.

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