New to Office 365 in December – accessibility updates and more

Last month, there were several updates to the Office apps that we designed to help you more easily create accessible content for clients and customers. We wanted to give you a brief overview of these updates so you can maximize your Microsoft Office 365 potential.

Accessibility Checker front and center

The Accessibility Checker is now easily discoverable in Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook and Visio, helping you ensure your content can be consumed without barriers by people with varying levels of vision, hearing, cognition and mobility. The Accessibility Checker analyses your material and provides recommendations alongside your document, helping you understand how to fix errors and create more accessible content over time.

Click Check Accessibility under the Review tab to get started.


Intelligent alternate text for images

PowerPoint already leverages intelligent image analysis, including facial detection, color extraction and more to help optimise professional designs offered to you by Designer. Soon you’ll get automatic suggestions for alternative text descriptions (alt-text) for images in both PowerPoint and Word, helping save you time and ensuring your media-rich presentations and documents can be understood by people with visual impairments.

Powered by the Microsoft Computer Vision Cognitive Service, this capability will get smarter through machine learning as more people use it, and over time we will bring it to more apps and platforms. Stay tuned for more.


Easily requesting accessible content in Outlook

Now you can enable a MailTip in Outlook on the web which alerts coworkers to your preference for accessible content. The prompt they see while composing email to you reminds them to run Accessibility Checker before sending. This helps ensure coworkers fix any issues that might make the content difficult for people with disabilities to consume. We’ll bring this capability to Outlook on Windows desktops in the future.

Get started by visiting Accessibility preferences from the General tab of Outlook on the web settings.


Easy and accessible hyperlinks

Soon you’ll be able to easily attach hyperlinks to recent cloud-based files or websites and simultaneously create more meaningful display names for people consuming your document using screen readers. Now when you click to insert a hyperlink, a Recent Items list similar to the one in Outlook will show your recently used files on SharePoint, OneDrive and OneDrive for Business, as well as webpages already copied to your clipboard.

Once you select a link to insert, its file or webpage name—instead of its long URL—will automatically be added as the display text (which you can modify as you wish).

A Recent Items list will soon help you easily attach hyperlinks with meaningful display names for recent cloud-based files or websites.