Microsoft made a commitment in 2021 to make Windows 11 and other apps more accessible for people with disabilities. That same year, Microsoft announced a new accessibility ribbon for its PowerPoint presentation app for Windows and Mac. It allowed users to make slides with features that would make them more accessible to certain audiences including people with hearing and visual disabilities.
Today, as part of Global Accessibility Awareness Day, Microsoft announced new features for the PowerPoint accessibility ribbon for Windows and Mac platforms and PowerPoint on the web. These features are being added based on feedback from users from the past 18 months.
Here's what's been added to the new version of the ribbon:
- The accessibility ribbon now appears whenever the Alt Text Pane and Reading Order Pane are open (in addition to when the Accessibility Checker Pane is open).
- The ribbon now makes it easy to spot issues that would prevent your content from being accessible to color blind people using the Inspect without Color button.
- The ribbon now enables you to mark images included in your presentation solely to add visual interest rather than information, using the Mark as Decorative button one object at a time or in bulk, and avoid having to include alt text.
- It also speeds up adding a header row or column to a table in one easy step with the new Insert Header Row and Insert Header Column commands.
The new version of PowerPoint is available now for Office Insiders to try out for Windows (version 2304 - Build 16327.10000 or later) and for Mac (version 16.72 - Build 23040900 or later). There's no word on when it will reach general availability
The accessibility ribbon feature has also been added to other Microsoft Office apps, including Excel, and most recently to Outlook for Windows.