What's new in accessibility for Word for Mac, iPhone, and iPad

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 2016 for Mac, Word for iPad, and Word for iPhone better for customers who use a keyboard and assistive technology. We welcome your feedback so we can continue to improve Word for everyone.

Note: The improvements in this update are available to Microsoft 365 subscribers. If you'd like to be among the first to access these improvements, join the Office Insider program.

We’ve made Word more consistent and reliable with VoiceOver, and we’ve enabled deeper and broader feature access with VoiceOver. We're working to make it easier and more efficient to author and read documents. This includes fundamentals like working with VoiceOver on text, styles, tables 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.

December 2016 Highlights

Here are some highlights of the December 2016 update of Word for Mac and iOS.

Screen reader and keyboard interaction

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

  • VoiceOver offers information about text formatting and simpler navigation to hyperlinks on iOS.

  • You can navigate in dialog boxes, menus, and panes more efficiently with the keyboard and with VoiceOver.

  • VoiceOver uses standard math terminology to read or edit equation.

  • When you read or edit text that contains footnotes or endnotes, VoiceOver announces the text reference.

  • You can read headings and navigate by headings in your document via the Navigation Pane on Mac.

  • You can use VoiceOver to interact with and modify shapes.


  • VoiceOver reads row and column headings out loud.

  • VoiceOver navigates and edits tables more reliably and consistently on Mac and iOS.

  • Use VoiceOver table commands, such as VO-R or VO-C, to read an entire row or column on Mac.

Track changes and work with comments

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

  • You can now get reliable information from VoiceOver about change tracking. When you read or edit text that contains revisions, you'll also hear about the type of revision (insert, delete, edit, and so on).

  • VoiceOver consistently identifies text with comments. When you read or edit text that contains a comment, VoiceOver also tells you how many comments are applied to that text.

Collaboration and co-authoring

  • VoiceOver announces useful information during co-authoring, such as noting that a text block is locked by another editor.

Increased Contrast

This update includes better compatibility with the Increased Contrast Setting.

  • Text formatting and page background now match your contrast settings.

  • Ribbon commands and gallery content also match your contrast settings.

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 on Mac, just search for “Accessible templates” in the Search for Online Templates box.

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

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

  • You can add and edit alternative text to images on iOS.

Save As or Export to PDF

You can count on the Word PDF tools to:

  • 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.

Technical support for people with disabilities

Microsoft wants to provide the best possible experience for all our customers. If you have a disability or have 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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