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Office 365 December update brings more accessible and efficient content creation

Office 365, Microsoft’s subscription service, has received several updates this month which should help you become a little more productive. This month the Accessibility Checker was made easier to find, intelligent alternate text for images was added, Outlook users can more easily request accessible content, and it's now easier to add better hyperlinks for those consuming your document with screen readers.

The Accessibility Checker has been made more discoverable in Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, and Visio. It analyzes your material and provides recommendations alongside your document which you can act upon to fix errors and make your content more accessible to those with vision, hearing, cognitive, and mobility issues. To get started with Accessibility Checker, have a look under the Review tab.

Next, Microsoft has added intelligent alternate text for images in PowerPoint and Word. Alternate text allows users with screen readers to obtain a description of an image but all too often this text is left out by the author. Microsoft is now leveraging the Microsoft Computer Vision Cognitive Service to intelligently and automatically add alt-text to the images you use.

Outlook has also received an update which will make life a bit easier for those with accessibility needs. Users can now enable a MailTip in Outlook which will notify co-workers that you want accessible content. They will be prompted with a reminder to run the Accessibility Checker before sending the document. You can enable this functionality by visiting Accessibility preferences from the General tab of Outlook on the web settings.

The last major addition is accessible hyperlinks. This allows you to attach hyperlinks to recent cloud-based files or websites and create more meaningful display names for people accessing the document with screen readers. The feature works with cloud-based files and websites.

Access to these new features may already be possible for you depending on what platform you are using, otherwise you'll have to wait a few months while Microsoft rolls out the functionality across more platforms and devices.

Source: Microsoft

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