What's new in accessibility for Word

We are committed to making Microsoft 365 applications accessible by design on every device, so that

  • People with disabilities can communicate, consume, and create content on any device.

  • Everyone can easily create content that is accessible.

In this article, we'll share some highlights from recent updates on our journey to make Word for PCs and Word for Windows 10 better for customers who use a keyboard and assistive technology. We welcome your feedback so we can continue to improve Word for everyone.

We’ve made Word more consistent and reliable with screen readers, and we’ve enabled deeper and broader feature access with screen readers. We're working to make it easier and more efficient to author and read documents. This includes fundamentals like working with Narrator and other screen readers on text, styles, headings, and lists. It also includes features such as proofing, track changes, comments, and co-authoring.

To learn how to use these features with a screen reader and keyboard, choose the Word icon on Office Accessibility Center.

November 2016 Updates

Here are some highlights of the November 2016 update of Word for PCs and Word for Windows 10. Our accessibility improvements follow industry standards and can be used by any assistive technology.

Note: If you'd like to be among the first to access these improvements, join the Office Insider program.

Tip: To get full benefit from these improvements, we recommend Windows 10 Anniversary update using Narrator.

Screen reader and keyboard interaction

We've improved the experience of working with fundamental tasks such as keyboard navigation and text formatting.

  • Screen readers offer more detailed information about text formatting, lists, and hyperlinks.

  • Navigate by headings and by links.

  • Navigate in dialog boxes, menus, and panes more efficiently with the keyboard.

  • Use one key (F7) operation to start Caret browsing. This allows you to use your cursor to navigate in read-only mode, such as documents with restricted editing or reading mode.

  • Screen readers use standard math words when you read or edit equation.

  • When you read or edit text that contains footnotes or endnotes, screen readers announce the text reference. Then, you can go to the referenced text, by pressing Caps+Insert or Show Note .


  • Screen readers clearly announce row and column headings.

  • Narrator navigates tables more reliably and consistently.

  • Use Narrator table commands, such as Caps+F3 or Caps+F4, to navigate by row or column.

Track changes and use comments

This update includes improvements that can help you track changes in a document and to use comments more effectively.

  • Reliable keyboarding and screen reader announcements for change tracking.

    • When you read or edit text that contains revisions, Narrator announces the type of revision (insert, delete, edit, and so on).

    • Use Caps + Insert or the Next button to go to a change (view dependent).

  • Consistently identify text with comments, and enable navigation to comment text.

    • When you read or edit text that contains a comment, Narrator announces the number of comments applied to that text.

    • Use Caps + Insert or the Next button to go to a comment (view dependent)

Collaboration and co-authoring

This update includes improved screen reader interactions and navigation. For example, screen readers now

  • Announce useful information during real-time co-authoring.

  • Sound an alert when you start an action that can block others from editing.

  • Read names of other contributors.

High Contrast

This update includes better compatibility with High Contrast themes.

  • Text formatting and page background now match your chosen high contrast theme.

  • Ribbon commands and gallery content also match your high contrast theme better.

  • High contrast now includes advanced features like find highlighting and watermarks.

Accessible authoring

  • Many popular Office templates are now accessible. You’ll find accessible templates for reports, presentations, cover sheets, even resumes. To use the templates from Word, Excel, or PowerPoint, just search for “Accessible templates” in the Search for Online Templates box.

  • Color contrast for Word documents meets accessibility guidelines for text, styles, and objects by default.

  • Accessibility Checker can now start from a button in the Review tab on the ribbon.

  • Accessibility Checker now provides Steps to fix instructions that match ribbon commands, such as how to create a header row in a table.

Proofing with Editor

  • Screen readers alert people to errors and other issues that Editor finds in spelling, grammar, and writing style.

  • Proofing marks are accessible for people with low vision and those who are color blind. The marks use different underline types (single line, double line, dotted) and colors to signal issues in spelling, grammar, and style.

  • The new Editor context menu offers synonyms next to each spelling suggestion, as a quick aid for choosing the suggestion you want. It also offers a Read Aloud feature that helps people with dyslexia and those who are learning to read the language to choose the best suggestion.

  • Office spelling checkers have been enhanced so that you see “No suggestions” less often, even when words are spelled very differently from the intended word.

To find out more about Editor, see Editor - your writing assistant.

Learning tools in Word

You can use Learning Tools in Word when you use Reading mode in Word for PCs. Learning Tools can help people with learning disabilities such as dyslexia read more effectively.

  • Show breaks between syllables.

  • Read text aloud. and highlight each word as it is read.

To see how Learning Tools make a difference for teachers, go to New Learning Tools help educators create more inclusive classrooms.

Note: To be among the first to get these features, get Microsoft 365 and join the Office Insiders program.

Save As or Export to PDF

  • Display the tagged document title.

  • Correctly tag hyperlinks.

  • Correctly tag bulleted and numbered lists. This includes nested lists.

  • Mark documents with the language attribute.

We want to hear from you

We welcome your feedback.

We want you to love working with Word. If you have a suggestion about making Word more usable for people with disabilities, please give us feedback or vote at Word User Voice.

Microsoft wants to provide the best possible experience for all our customers. If you have a disability or questions related to accessibility, please contact the Microsoft Disability Answer Desk for technical assistance. The Disability Answer Desk support team is trained in using many popular assistive technologies and can offer assistance in English, Spanish, French, and American Sign Language. Please go to the Microsoft Disability Answer Desk site to find out the contact details for your region.

If you are a government, commercial, or enterprise user, please contact the enterprise Disability Answer Desk.

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