Figures suggest that around 1 in 8 people worldwide are currently living with a disability; that’s about 1 BILLION of us. Taking steps to create a more accessible workplace, then, is key to ensuring that every person can participate and contribute no matter their abilities.

By making everything accessible as standard, it creates a more inclusive culture and improves things for everybody, whether they have a disability or not. Every business has a responsibility to be inclusive and accessible.

Luckily, packages like Microsoft 365 make this easy – not only because the programmes are designed to make work flow more seamless, but also because many of these programmes have some fantastic accessibility features.

Microsoft as an organisation have a huge commitment to accessibility, and as part of this, are working to make their own products and software as accessible as possible too.

Here are some of the Microsoft 365 accessibility features that we love:

1) Improve your reading ability with Immersive Reader

Immersive Reader is a free tool built into the Microsoft 365 suite that helps to improve reading and writing for people regardless of their age or ability. It can be effective in improving reading comprehension and increasing fluency in English for those who use it as a second language.

We love this tool, as it can really help to build confidence for people who are learning to read or for those who have learning differences such as dyslexia.

Immersive Reader is available across the Microsoft 365 suite, including Teams, OneNote, Word and Outlook.

GIF showing how to use immersive reader Microsoft 365 accessibility feature

2) Add braille devices to the Microsoft Narrator tool in Windows 10

How to add braille devices to microsoft narrator
Narrator is a screen reading app available in Windows 10. It’s a great way for people living with visual impairments to continue using their PC without needing a mouse; you can use it to read and write emails, browse the web and work on documents.

For people who may use a braille display device, you can add these for use with the Narrator tool – Narrator supports braille displays from various manufacturers.

After setting your braille device up to work with Narrator, you can customise your experience by changing various settings including input/output language and notification timeout. 

3) Improve your presentations and presenting skills with Presenter Coach

For some, delivering an inspirational and impactful presentation comes completely naturally, while for others, it can be a really stressful experience.

If you fall into the latter category, Presenter Coach could be a really handy feature. It acts as your very own presentation guru, using AI to offer feedback on things like your pitch and pacing, potentially culturally insensitive language, and your use of filler words.

GIF showing how to turn presenter coach on in Microsoft

4) Get a little extra help with your writing using the Text Suggestions feature

How to turn on text suggestions step by step GIF in Microsoft 365
Get help constructing sentences across the Microsoft 365 suite with the text suggestions feature.

By turning this feature on, word suggestions will appear, and can be inserted, as you type in various apps including Teams, Edge, Word and PowerPoint.

This is a fantastic feature for anyone who might need a little bit of extra help with their writing, or for those who are learning English as a second language.

5) Make colours easier to see with the Colour Filter settings

 

The Colour Filters setting allows you to customise your screen, making colours and photos easier to see.

Within the settings, you can choose to set the screen to Inverted, Greyscale or Greyscale Inverted, as well as further colour blindness filters.

Making it easier to use the device, this is such a great feature for people with colour blindness, light sensitivity, or even just a visual preference.

Microsoft Accessibility Tools | Turning on Colour Filters in settings

6) Get things done without distractions by using Focus Assist

Turning on Focus Assist in Windows 10
Focus assist is a feature that many of us use at #TeamHable, and is great for looking after your own mental health and wellbeing while working.

It blocks your alerts and notifications, allowing you to get things done without distractions and preventing you from feeling overwhelmed.

7) Before sharing your content, don’t forget to use the Accessibility Checker

Finally, we wanted to mention Accessibility Checker – the tool that you can use to make sure the content that you’re creating or documents you’re working on are easy to digest for people of all abilities.

Don’t forget to run the Accessibility Checker before sharing your documents!

We love this one – it’s such a brilliant feature that promotes a more inclusive working environment.

Turning on Accessibility Checker in Microsoft 365

Improving accessibility in the workplace

These accessibility features in Microsoft 365 are a fantastic place to start, however, there are plenty of other tips and tools that employers can utilise to create a more accessible and inclusive working environment.

Do you want some help improving the accessibility within your organisation? Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with Hable – we offer an accessibility consulting service to help you build an inclusive workplace.