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Microsoft will be adding new features to its upcoming Windows 8 operating system designed to help people with disabilities navigate and better use the OS, the company said in a blog post Tuesday.
“Windows 8 is a product we design for an incredibly broad spectrum of people around the world,” wrote Microsoft Windows head Steven Sinofsky. “One of the areas where we have worked to deliver an even greater level of innovation is in ensuring that Windows 8, particularly the new Metro style experience, is accessible to everyone regardless of their physical abilities.”
Microsoft will be adding features such as an updated version of Magnifier, which helps people with low vision. This product is actually in Windows 7, but the company admits there are still a few issues that need to be fixed with high contrast colors. You can see Magnifier in action above pin-pointing a certain part of the Windows 8 screen.
Another big feature is a better version of Narrator, which can read back the actions that are happening on screen, thus helping those with visual impairments. The company said it is redesigning Narrator to respond faster to movement on the screen, support more languages, and read more controls. On a related note, the company will be doing what it can to improve speech recognition.
As someone with a partial hearing disability, I commend Microsoft on adding and improving features to help people with vision and hearing difficulties. The idea that technology progresses so fast but still remains inaccessible for those with some disabilities is extremely disconcerting. But hopefully we’ll see this type of support progress further with all OSes across laptops, phones, tablets, and other connected devices.
You can watch a full video below of how Microsoft is implementing these new features:
Image courtesy of Yurchyks, Shutterstock