Formatted version

Guides
[image: Photo of a girl talking to a woman]

[Top Navigation Menu]

[Left Navigation Menu]

I'm looking for:

Windows

Office

Assistive Technology Products

[image: MSDN Accessibility Developer Center icon]

[Main Content]

Guide for Individuals with Language and Communication Impairments

Microsoft products include accessibility features and options that can be adjusted to address language and communication preferences as well as difficulties and impairments ranging from aphasia (loss or impairment of the power to use or comprehend words), delayed speech, and other conditions resulting in difficulties remembering, solving problems, or perceiving sensory information.

This guide describes accessibility features built into Windows 8 and Office 2013 which are available at your option to address language and communication impairments and preferences. You can also learn about the types of assistive technology products available to further assist you.

In this section:

Make Windows 8 easier to use

With Windows 8 you can easily access the most commonly used accessibility options right from the sign-in screen. Select the Ease of Access button in the lower-left corner of your screen, or press the Windows logo key+U, to choose the settings for your PC that you want to have available each time it starts.

Adjust accessibility settings from the Ease of Access Center

The Ease of Access Center is a convenient, central location where you can set up all of the accessibility settings and programs available in Windows, and "get recommendations" for suggested settings to fit your individual learning needs and preferences.

After log-in, you can access the Ease of Access Center by pressing the Windows logo key+U. On a touch-enabled device, swipe in from the right edge of the screen, and then tap Search. Enter Ease of Access Center in the search box, tap or click Settings, and then tap or click Ease of Access Center in the results.

After log-in, you can access the Ease of Access Center by pressing the Windows logo key+U. On a touch-enabled device, swipe in from the right edge of the screen, and then tap Search. Enter Ease of Access Center in the search box, tap or click Settings, and then tap or click Ease of Access Center in the results.

[image: Screen shot of the Ease of Access Center in Control Panel]
Ease of Access Center in Control Panel

Make it easier to focus on tasks

The Windows accessibility options most helpful for people with learning impairments and special needs are grouped into the Make it easier to focus on tasks section. A number of settings can help make it easier to focus on reading and typing. You can have Narrator read information on the screen, adjust how the keyboard responds to certain keystrokes, and control whether certain visual elements are displayed.

Hear text read aloud with Narrator

Windows comes with a basic screen reader called Narrator that reads aloud on-screen text and describes some events such as an error message appearing on screen. This feature may be useful for people with learning impairments who benefit from both visual and auditory information being presented simultaneously.

Narrator in Windows 8 is substantially faster and supports many new features. By default on touch-only devices, Narrator can be launched by simply holding down the Windows logo button and pressing the Volume Up button. Once Narrator is running, you can use Narrator’s built-in touch commands to explore the screen and control your device.

There are also some new configuration options for Narrator in Windows 8. You can select one of several voices, change the speed at which Narrator speaks, create customizable keyboard commands, and specify many other settings to suit your preferences.

[image: Screen shot of the Narrator Settings options dialog box]
Narrator Settings options dialog box

Turn on Sticky Keys, Toggle Keys, and Filter Keys

Several options you can turn on in Windows can simplify the way you type information into your computer thereby making it easier to stay focused.

These options include:

  • Sticky Keys—Instead of having to press three keys at once (such as when you must press the Ctrl, Alt, and Delete keys together to log on to Windows), you can use one key by turning on Sticky Keys and adjusting the settings. This way, you can press a modifier key and have it remain active until another key is pressed.
  • Toggle Keys—Toggle Keys can play an alert each time you press the Caps Lock, Num Lock, or Scroll Lock keys. These alerts can help prevent the frustration of inadvertently pressing a key and not realizing it.
  • Filter Keys—You can set Windows to ignore keystrokes that occur in rapid succession, or keystrokes that are held down for several seconds unintentionally.

Reduce visual distractions

  • Remove background images. This option turns off all unimportant, overlapped content and background images to help make the screen easier to see.
  • Turn off all unnecessary animations. This option turns off animation effects, such as fading effects, when windows and other elements are closed.
  • Choose how long Windows notification dialog boxes stay open. With this option, you can choose how long notifications are displayed on the screen before they close.
  • Prevent windows from being automatically arranged when moved to the edge of the screen. This option prevents windows from automatically resizing and docking along the sides of your screen when you move them there.

Note: Remember, you can access these options at any time after log-in by opening the Ease of Access Center by pressing the Windows logo key+U. Then, select "Make it easier to focus on tasks."

Interact with your computer by touch

Using a keyboard and mouse is not always possible or desirable for many people. With Windows 8, if you have a touch-screen monitor, you can just touch your computer screen for a more direct and natural way to work. Use your fingers to scroll, resize windows, play media, and pan and zoom. See also: How to use the touch keyboard.

[image: Screenshot of desktop with video launch icon and link to video on how to use the touch keyboard]
Desktop with video launch icon and link to video on how to use the touch keyboard

Use Office features to focus on tasks

A number of accessibility options in Microsoft Office products make it easier for people with language and communication impairments to interact with their computers while creating Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, PowerPoint presentations, and more.

Spelling and grammar checker in Office programs

All Microsoft Office programs can check the spelling and grammar of your files. In Microsoft Word 2013, start the Spelling and Grammar checker by clicking Review > Spelling and Grammar.

Then, choose from these options as the spelling and grammar checker reviews your document:

  • Check the spelling and grammar all at once.
  • Check spelling and grammar automatically, as you type.
  • Recheck the words you previously checked and chose to ignore (but changed your mind).

[image: Screen shot of Spelling and Grammar button on the Word 2013 ribbon]
Screen shot of Spelling and Grammar button on the Word 2013 ribbon

Use the Speak text-to-speech feature

Text-to-speech (TTS) is the ability of your computer to play back written text as spoken words. Depending upon your configuration and installed TTS engines, you can hear most text that appears on your screen in Word 2013, Outlook 2013, PowerPoint 2013 and OneNote 2013.

Add Speak to the Quick Access Toolbar

  1. Next to the Quick Access Toolbar, click Customize Quick Access Toolbar.
  2. Click More Commands.
  3. In the Choose commands from list, select All Commands.
  4. Scroll down to the Speak command, select it, and then click Add.
  5. Click OK.
  6. When you want to use the text-to-speech command, click the icon on the Quick Access Toolbar.

[image: Screen shot of Word Options dialog box where the Speak command is selected to add to the Quick Access Toolbar]
Word Options dialog box where the Speak command is selected to add to the Quick Access Toolbar

[image: Screen shot of the Quick Access Toolbar with Speak command added and highlighted]
Quick Access Toolbar with Speak command added and highlighted

Use Read Mode for a clearer view

Use the new Read Mode in Word 2013 for a beautiful, distraction-free reading experience. Read Mode hides most of the buttons and tools so you can get absorbed in your reading without distractions. Press ALT+W, and then press F to open Read Mode. To move from page to page in a document, do one of the following:

  • Click the arrows on the left and right sides of the pages.
  • Press page down and page up or the spacebar and backspace on the keyboard. You can also use the arrow keys or the scroll wheel on your mouse.
  • If you're on a touch device, swipe left or right with your finger.

Also while in Read Mode you can double-click a picture to get an enlarged view. Click outside the image to return to reading.

[image: Screen shot of document in Read Mode of Office 2013]
Document in Read Mode of Office 2013

Hear text read aloud with Mini Translator

With the Microsoft Office 2013 Mini Translator, you can point to a word or selected phrase with your mouse and the translation displays in a small window. The Mini Translator also includes a Play button so you can hear an audio pronunciation of the word or phrase, and a Copy button so you can paste the translation into another document.

Use Microsoft OneNote to stay organized

Microsoft OneNote can make taking and organizing notes a lot easier. Students with dyslexia, for example, can benefit from many features in OneNote that can help them take notes faster and in different ways, stay organized, and meet literacy challenges, such as spelling and grammar.

See also: Upgrading to Microsoft OneNote 2013 from a previous version.

[image: Screen shot of OneNote 2013 ribbon]
OneNote ribbon

Move around webpages with the keyboard

With learning impairments and disabilities it's sometimes difficult to find links on webpages. Some people find it easier and quicker to move around webpages using the keyboard in Web Apps.

Surf the web more easily with Internet Explorer 10

Accessibility in Internet Explorer 10 lets you select text and move around a webpage with the keyboard. Keyboard access to the toolbar buttons, search box items, address bar, and tabs makes surfing the web quicker and easier for people with learning impairments.

Use keyboard shortcuts to navigate webpages

Press the Tab key to move forward between screen elements and Shift+Tab to move backward. By pressing Tab or Shift+Tab, you can navigate through the parts of the screen. Learn more keyboard shortcuts.

Zoom in on a webpage

To make everything on a webpage easier to see you can zoom in or enlarge the whole page including images and text. You can zoom from 10% to 1000%. Press Ctrl+Plus sign (+) to zoom in, or Ctrl+Minus sign (-) to zoom out.

Or, while viewing your Internet Explorer window from the desktop, select the Tools [image: Screenshot of Tools button in Internet Explorer 10] icon at the top of the window, select Zoom, then select Zoom in, or Zoom out, or the desired percentage. You can also select Custom to set a percentage up to 1000 percent.

[image: Screen shot of the Tools button in Internet Explorer 10]
Tools button in Internet Explorer 10

[image: Screen shot of the Internet Options Tools menu open to Zoom level options]
Internet Options Tools menu open to Zoom level options

You can specify the font type and size and the foreground and background colors that are used to display webpages. You can also specify the color used for links in webpages.

Change the font size, formatting, and screen colors

To make webpages easier to see, you can change the font type and size, and the foreground and background colors that are used to display webpages. You can also specify the color used for links in webpages, and override colors used on webpages.

With an Internet Explorer window open on the Desktop, select Internet Options from the Tools menu.

[image: Screen shot of the Internet Options dialog box Colors, Fonts, Accessibility buttons]
Internet Options dialog box Colors, Fonts, Accessibility buttons

Then, select one of the buttons at the bottom of the dialog box:

  • Fonts—to change the font type and size used on webpages.
  • Colors—to change the font colors used on webpages.
  • Accessibility—to make Internet Explorer ignore colors, font styles and font sizes used on webpages, or to format webpages using your own style sheet.

[image: Screen shot of the Fonts dialog box where font preferences are selected]
Fonts dialog box where font preferences are selected

[image: Screen shot of the Colors dialog box where webpage color preferences are selected]
Colors dialog box where webpage color preferences are selected

Find assistive technology for language and communication impairments

You can shop for assistive technology products compatible with Microsoft Windows made by independent assistive technology companies. People who have language or communication difficulties and impairments may be interested in the following assistive technology:

  • Augmentative and assistive communication (AAC) devices are used by individuals who cannot speak or who find speaking difficult. The user types in a word, phrase, or sentence to communicate—or selects a series of symbols or pictures on the device—and the device "speaks" aloud for the user. Often these devices are used to replace a PC keyboard. In these cases the user is able to use one device for both communicating and computer input.
  • Touch screens are devices placed on the computer monitor (or built into it) that allow direct selection or activation of the computer by touching the screen. The ability to touch the computer screen to make a selection is advantageous for people with language and learning disabilities because it is a more simple, direct, and intuitive process than making a selection using a mouse or keyboard. With Windows and a touch-screen, you can just touch your computer screen for a more direct and natural way to work. Use your fingers to scroll, resize windows, play media, and pan and zoom.
  • Speech synthesizers provide the user with information through a computer voice. Also known as text-to-speech (TTS), the speech synthesizer receives information in the form of letters, numbers, and punctuation marks, and then "speaks" it out loud to the user in a computer voice.

[Right Panel]


© 2014 Microsoft 
[image: Microsoft]