WebAIM: An Evolution in Microsoft Office Accessibility

An Evolution in Microsoft Office Accessibility

In the early years of Microsoft Office, support for screen reader users was limited, and in most cases required third-party software and workarounds. In Office 2007, the Ribbon interface was introduced. This “Fluent UI” was a boon to productivity for some users, but it initially posed significant challenges for screen reader users. To its credit, Microsoft moved quickly to develop keyboard shortcuts and other navigational aids to provide a more equivalent experience.

Microsoft continued to improve support for screen readers users in Office 2010. It also introduced the Accessibility Checker, which may have been the first time many users were aware of Microsoft’s focus on accessibility. In Office 2013, support for screen reader users continued to grow, and improvements were made to the Accessibility Checker. In Office 2016, a significant development was providing users with the ability to mark images as “decorative.”

While Microsoft’s ongoing efforts to focus on accessibility are to be commended, for many years there have been signs that increasing accessibility was not a comprehensive effort across the product team. When compared with the inherent focus on accessibility of the [...]

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