Microsoft to expand availability of Learning Tools to other Office products

Most of the attention Microsoft receives these days involves Windows 10 and Office 365, with much of that interest directed towards the latest builds and new features. However, Microsoft has also made notable progress with regards to accessibility and assistive technologies, with its Learning Tools for OneNote add-in gaining in popularity throughout this year.

In fact, Learning Tools for OneNote ended up being the first 'Top Dyslexia App of 2016' announced by Dyslexic Advantage, just as Microsoft announced the public preview of the add-in, well before it reached general availability in July.

Since the release of the OneNote add-in, the technology has enabled teachers to create more inclusive learning experiences for their students. Now, Microsoft is now planning to bring features, previously exclusive to the desktop version of OneNote, to other Office applications, which will include OneNote Online, Word, and Word Online.

Some of the features to make the initial transition will include:

  • text-to-speech reading with simultaneous text highlighting to help improve focus and comprehension
  • text spacing to help improve fluency for those impacted by 'visual crowding' issues
  • syllabification and 'parts of speech' features, originally part of the 'Immersive Reader', to support word recognition and writing quality

Microsoft also intends to bring Learning Tools features to its Office Lens app but made no mention concerning what and how they would be implemented. It also remains to be seen as to when these features will be available for the respective applications given the lack of dates provided in the announcement.

Source: Microsoft

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