Computers have become an important part of our lives, even more so during these days of lockdowns and social distancing. Not everyone, however, has the luxury of being able to use a computer normally or even see what’s on the screen. Those with low or no vision always find using computers more than just a hassle. To mark this year’s Accessibility Awareness Day, Microsoft is pushing changes to Windows 10 that, though small, could mean a world for these users.
Windows 10 already has a set of accessibility features that cater to both those with poor eyesight as well as those incapable of seeing at all. Much of the features of the former involve making this more visible by increasing contrast or making things larger by magnifying them. As it turns out, those aren’t always enough in many cases.
While users could change the way fonts and even the mouse cursor look, figuring out where the text cursor is located isn’t as easy. Now, however, they can change not just the thickness of that cursor but also the colors of the cursor indicator for better visibility. And when reading even enlarged text becomes tiring, the new Magnifier can read that text out loud instead.
Text-to-speech and screen readers are mostly used by those who cannot see completely. With the latest Windows 10 update, those features are becoming smarter and more natural sounding. Windows’ Narrator can also start reading from the top of a web page or, at the user’s request, just give a page summary of headings and links on the page. Narrator now also works not only on Edge and Chrome but also on Firefox.
These new accessibility features are rolling out to everyone in the May 2020 update to Windows 10. Microsoft is also making a call for more testers to join its Windows Insider Program to help shape such features for the benefit of everyone, especially those that need it the most.