Accessibility information for IT professionals

Microsoft is dedicated to making its products and services accessible and usable for everyone. Windows includes accessibility features that benefit all users. These features make it easier to customize the computer and give users with different abilities options to improve their experience with Windows.

This article helps you as the IT administrator learn about built-in accessibility features. It also includes recommendations for how to support people in your organization who use these features.

Windows 11, version 22H2, includes improvements for people with disabilities: system-wide live captions, Focus sessions, voice access, and more natural voices for Narrator. For more information, see New accessibility features coming to Windows 11 and How inclusion drives innovation in Windows 11.

General recommendations

  • Be aware of Ease of Access settings. Understand how people in your organization might use these settings. Help people in your organization learn how they can customize Windows.

  • Don't block settings. Avoid using group policy or MDM settings that override Ease of Access settings.

  • Encourage choice. Allow people in your organization to customize their computers based on their needs. That customization might be installing an add-on for their browser, or a non-Microsoft assistive technology.

Vision

  • Use Narrator to use devices without a screen. Narrator describes Windows and apps and enables you to control devices by using a keyboard, controller, or with a range of gestures on touch-supported devices. Starting in Windows 11, version 22H2, Narrator includes more natural voices.

  • Create accessible apps. You can develop accessible apps just like Mail, Groove, and Store that work well with Narrator and other leading screen readers.

  • Use keyboard shortcuts. Get the most out of Windows with shortcuts for apps and desktops.

  • Get closer with Magnifier. Magnifier enlarges all or part of your screen and offers various configuration settings.

  • Make Windows easier to see.

    • Changing the size or color of pointers or adding trails or touch feedback make it easier to follow the mouse.
    • Adjust the size of text, icons, and other screen items to make them easier to see.
    • Many high-contrast themes are available to suit your needs.
  • Have Cortana assist. Cortana can handle various tasks for you, including setting reminders, opening apps, finding facts, and sending emails and texts.

  • Dictate text and commands. Windows includes speech recognition that lets you tell it what to do.

  • Simplify for focus. Reducing animations and turning off background images and transparency can minimize distractions.

  • Keep notifications around longer. If notifications aren't staying visible long enough for you to notice them, you can increase the time a notification will be displayed up to five minutes.

  • Read in Braille. Narrator supports braille displays from more than 35 manufacturers using more than 40 languages and multiple braille variants.

Hearing

  • Use live captions to better understand audio. Use Windows 11, version 22H2 or later to better understand any spoken audio with real time captions.

  • View live transcription in a Teams meeting. During any Teams meeting, view a live transcription so you don't miss what's being said.

  • Use Teams for sign language. Teams is available on various platforms and devices, so you don't have to worry about whether your co-workers, friends, and family can communicate with you.

  • Make Windows easier to hear.

    • Replace audible alerts with visual alerts.
    • If notifications aren't staying visible long enough for you to notice them, you can increase the time a notification will be displayed up to five minutes.
    • Send all sounds to both left and right channels, which is helpful for those people with partial hearing loss or deafness in one ear.
  • Read spoken words with captioning. You can customize things like color, size, and background transparency to suit your needs and tastes.

  • Use the Azure Cognitive Services Translator service to add machine translation to your solutions.

Physical

  • Have Cortana assist you. Cortana can handle various tasks for you, including setting reminders, opening apps, finding facts, and sending emails and texts.

  • Dictate text and commands. Windows includes voice recognition that lets you tell it what to do.

  • Use the On-Screen Keyboard (OSK). Instead of relying on a physical keyboard, use the OSK to enter data and select keys with a mouse or other pointing device. It also offers word prediction and completion.

  • Make your mouse, keyboard, and other input devices easier to use.

    • If you have limited control of your hands, you can personalize your keyboard to do helpful things like ignore repeated keys.
    • If a mouse is difficult to use, you can control the pointer by using your numeric keypad.

Cognition

Assistive technology devices built into Windows

Other resources

Windows accessibility

Designing accessible software

Inclusive design

Accessibility guide for Microsoft 365 Apps