With the steady flow of feature updates about every six months now, operating system changes are measured in increments versus leaps. That is why we’re running through a series of articles and highlight the specific changes that are part of each feature update. This week we are looking at accessibility updates in the Windows 10 April 2018 Update.
The first thing that has been done for accessibility in this update is a consolidation of most of the Accessibility options under the Ease of Access area of Windows Settings. Users no longer have to hunt across different menus.
Ease of Access Settings in Windows Settings – April 2018 Update
Beyond centralizing many of the accessibility options here, you will also notice that the various features have been organized in related areas such as Vision, Hearing and Interaction. You can now go directly into the subset of settings in each of those categories to quickly find the feature you are looking to configure/setup.
Hardware Keyboard Suggestions/Auto-Correct Settings – April 2018 Update
The on-screen keyboard for Windows 10 has had text prediction for a while however, that capability has never been available for your physical keyboard. In the April 2018 Update that changes with the ability to flip a couple of settings toggles on Windows Settings > Devices > Typing > Hardware keyboard.
Once you have turned this on, you will also have the option to have autocorrect catch spelling mistakes as you type on your physical keyboard in addition to word suggestions. This will allow those with accessibility challenges to be more efficient at their typing, but it can also benefit able-bodied users.
Grammar Tools for Microsoft Edge – April 2018 Update
The next enhancement for the April 2018 Update is the addition of tools for EPUB books and websites that will help readers with comprehension of the content they are reading through Microsoft Edge.
Once installed, Grammar Tools has options to highlight parts of speech including nouns, verbs and adjectives. Words can also be broken into syllables to further assist with reading and comprehension.
Grammar Tools Options – April 2018 Update
Reading View in Microsoft Edge with Grammar Tools On – April 2018 Update
Microsoft Edge gained the ability to read content aloud in a past feature update but now that capability has been enhanced.
Narrated EPUB in Microsoft Edge – April 2018 Update
EPUB book publishers can now add unique narration voices and ambient sounds to create a more in-depth experience of the electronic publication. This can replace the default narrator voice that sounds very robotic/artificial.
Another area of Microsoft Edge that has been implemented in the April 2018 Update is a new Dark theme.
Dark Theme in Microsoft Edge – April 2018 Update
The idea behind this new option for theming the framework of Microsoft edge is to help with contrast between colors, text and icons. This will help users who need that contrast due to vision challenges to better navigate the browser. For everyone it can also help prevent eyestrain plus dark colors need less power consumption to display on the screen.
Unfortunately, even with a Dark theme turned on for Microsoft Edge, you still end up with that main viewing area being at the mercy of the website/service you are accessing. Although, over the last year or so, more sites are providing their own night or dark mode to help with this.
In addition to all the improvements mentioned above, Microsoft has continued their work on Eye Control which is still in preview. In the April 2018 Update they have added the ability to scroll and click either the right or left button to move around the system faster using the Eye Control features. They have also improved control of the Start Menu, device calibration and the ability to pause eye control as necessary.
You can find more information about accessibility in Windows 10 at the Windows 10 Accessibility help page.