While Windows 8 based devices are gearing up for release, Microsoft ensures that no stone is left unturned. In a recent blog post, Microsoft’s Jennifer Norberg, a senior program manager lead revealed how the OS has been crafted to bring easy accessibility to the disabled. The Windows 8 Metro style apps on desktop, laptops or touch phones can be accessed, irrespective of disabilities.

Magnifying content

Magnifying content

We’ve saw assistive technologies from the company, earlier, like the Narrator, which is a built-in screen reader for visually impaired users to interact, with system and applications. Then there is Magnifier that enlarges text and graphics for people with low vision. Speech recognition, which initially shipped with Windows Vista aided user with mobility impairments to navigate and use the PC. We've seen the on-screen keyboard, since Windows XP. Windows 8 will bring in some further improvements, such as a redesigned Narrator that reads quickly. It also supports more languages and there are updated components and features within Windows that would leverage UI Automation allowing them to be read by the Narrator. The UI Automation has been updated with more patterns and document content, so that it can be used by Narrator to read outputs from applications.

Microsoft wants to achieve accessibility goals in Windows 8, such as improved assistive technologies, which are components of Windows and also offer experience with the Metro Style UI. It plans to offer developer tools with built-in baseline accessibility for accessing apps available in the Windows marketplace. It is looking at assistive technology vendors to employ Windows 8 and build the accessibility scenarios.

When using Windows 7, Narrator will take one through the process of upgrading to Windows 8. The speed and voice of the voice assistant can be changed and it is said to be enhanced for reading Web pages. The touch devices would allow zooming and focusing on a particular section of the screen. Users with touchscreen tablets can control the narrator more easily.

Moreover, it plans to provide newer tools to its developers to help build accessibility features into apps.

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