Microsoft has announced accessibility improvements to its latest Windows 10 build including the addition of Braille support to the Narrator screen reader and the inclusion of a mono audio option.
In a blog post by Microsoft’s Dona Sarkar, developers who are a part of the Insider Preview network can update their version of Windows 10 to version 15025 which contains the new accessibility features.
The blog post stated that “We love getting feedback from our visually-impaired Insiders and implementing features to support your needs. It’s so important that we keep our diverse customers in mind as we co-create with you. Today, we are excited to announce braille support for Narrator. This experience is currently in beta.”To enable the feature, Microsoft has provided the following instructions:
- Ensure Narrator is running. Then go to Settings > Ease of Access (WIN + U) and under the Narrator settings, activate the “Download Braille” button. You will be prompted to install braille support.
- Under Settings > Ease of Access, activate the “Enable braille” button and add a braille display. Note that USB and serial connections for the display are supported.
- Under Settings > Ease of Access, choose the language and braille table you want to use. NOTE: There are coexistence issues with braille support and third party screen readers. Until the documentation is available, we recommend that braille be enabled for Narrator only on PCs that do not also have a third-party screen reader configured to use a braille display.
The new mono audio feature is another great accessibity feature and assists both hearing and vision impaired users. People with a hearing impairment in one ear can benefit by ensuring that information pushed only to one audio channel is available in both channels, while vision impaired users that use a screen reader with one earpiece can also receive audio sent to both channels. This feature can be found in the Ease of Access section once users have updated to the developer build.
Microsoft has not confirmed when the features will be available in the standard Windows 10 builds but based on development cycles its likely to arrive on most consumer devices before the end of the year.