This guide describes the most popular accessibility features of Windows and Microsoft Office. It also covers assistive technology products for Windows and Microsoft Office that are designed for people who are blind or low vision. For a more complete overview download the full guide.
If you have questions related to accessibility, contact the Microsoft Disability Answer Desk. This team can help you use many popular assistive technologies with support in English, Spanish, French, and American Sign Language (ASL).
If you’re a government, commercial, or enterprise user, see Accessibility support for enterprise.
To troubleshoot common issues and learn more about some of our accessibility features, including some features covered in this guide, check out the Accessibility playlist on the Microsoft Customer Support YouTube channel.
We’d like to hear from you. Please share any feedback through the Microsoft Accessibility Feedback forum.
In this guide:
This section shows how you can use speech from Narrator and Cortana to guide you through both the Windows installation and setting up your computer.
Installing Windows with Narrator
As soon as you start your computer, you can use Narrator to install Windows.
- Press Ctrl + Windows Logo Key + Enter to launch Narrator.
- Choose your language and time settings, then select Install now
- In Activate Windows, enter your product key.
- Select the I accept the license terms check box.
- Choose either Upgrade or Custom installation.
Activate Cortana to help set up Windows
After installing Windows, you can activate Cortana to help with the out-of-box experience.
- Choose a Network
- Enter your Microsoft account info. If you don't have a Microsoft account, select No account? Create One!
- Select either Customize or Use Express Settings
- Choose Yes to make Cortana your personal assistant.
Ease of Access lets you set up accessibility settings and programs available in Windows.
Turn on Ease of Access options
In Windows, you can access commonly used accessibility options right from the sign-in screen. Press the Windows Logo Key + U to open the Ease of Access settings.
To open Ease of Access settings on a touchscreen device, swipe in from the right edge of the screen and select All Settings > Ease of Access.
Hear text read aloud with Narrator
Narrator is the built-in screen reader that reads text on your screen aloud and describes events, such as notifications or calendar appointments. To start or stop Narrator, press Ctrl + Windows Logo Key + Enter. On Windows Mobile devices, press Windows Logo Key + Volume Up key to toggle Narrator on/off. To open Narrator settings, press Ctrl + Windows Logo Key + N
Narrator can jump between headings and landmarks in apps. To enable scan mode, press Caps Lock + Space then use the following keyboard shortcuts:
- Buttons: Press B/Shift + B
- Combo box: Press C/Shift + C
- Landmarks: Press D/Shift + D
- Edit field: Press E/Shift + E
- Form field: Press F/Shift + F
- Headings: Press H/Shift + H
- Item: Press I/Shift + I
- Link: Press K/Shift +K
- Paragraph: Press P/Shift + P
- Radio Button: Press R/Shift + R
- Table: Press T/Shift + T
- Check Box: Press X/Shift + X
- Move between Heading Levels: Press 1 to 9 or Shift/1-9
Use Magnifier to see items on the screen
Magnifier is a tool that enlarges your screen, so you can see words and images better. You can magnify the entire screen or just a part of it and move the magnifier where you want it on your desktop. Magnifier can also smooth edges of images and text when it’s zoomed in.
Other keyboard shortcuts:
- Open Magnifier settings: Press Ctrl + Windows Logo Key + M
- Turn on Magnifier and Zoom in: Press Windows Logo Key + Plus sign (+)
- Zoom out: Press Windows Logo Key + Minus sign (-)
- Exit Magnifier: Press Windows Logo Key + Esc
Improve visibility with high contrast
High contrast increases the color contrast between the foreground and background on your screen, making text and images more distinct and easier to identify. To turn on high contrast, press left Alt + left Shift + Print Screen.
You can choose different themes in high contrast settings. Press the Windows Logo Key + U, then select High contrast. Choose a high contrast theme from the drop-down menu and select Apply
Change the size of text, apps, and other items
If text and other items on the desktop are too small, you can make them larger without changing the screen resolution or turning on Magnifier.
To change the sizes:
- Open Settings by pressing Windows Logo Key + I
- Select System > Display
- Under Change the size of text, apps, and other items, select the size that you want.
Microsoft Office comes with built-in accessibility features designed for people who are blind or low vision. You can also customize options in Office to meet your individual vision needs and preferences.
Ease of Access options in Office
You can customize common accessibility settings within the Ease of Access options in Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook.
To find the Ease of Access options:
- Open an Office application.
- Select File > Options > Ease of Access
- Customize your accessibility options.
Zoom in or out of documents
You can increase the size of pages in Word documents, PowerPoint slides, Excel spreadsheets and other documents in Office.
- To quickly zoom in or out, press Ctrl + Mouse Wheel Button Up/Down
- Or, you can use the slider on the status bar to zoom in and out. You can also specify the Zoom from the View tab on the Ribbon.
Use Learning Tools in Word
Learning Tools is available in the Microsoft 365 version of Microsoft Word.
To use Learning Tools in Word 2016:
- Open any Microsoft Word document.
- On the View tab, in the Immersive section, select Learning Tools
- Choose any one of the following:
- Column Width
- Page Color
- Text Spacing
- Read Aloud