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Microsoft 365 accessibility features fall 2021 lineup: Here's what's new

Microsoft consistently releases hardware and software updates designed to improve the accessibility of its products so that anyone can use them without issue. It's such a focus for Microsoft that it has a quarterly update post on the subject, having just released the fall 2021 edition. Here's what you can now expect from accessibility features in Microsoft 365.

First, there are live captions and transcripts in Microsoft Teams meetings. These features are available on desktop and mobile apps and cover 28 languages.

On top of those items, CART (Communication Access Realtime Translation), which is a fancy way of saying real-time captioning, is rolling out to Teams members in October. This service enhances the captioning experience by addressing situations that are typically complicated for speech recognition software, such as jargon-heavy discussions.

In Outlook, the Editor feature helps with accessibility by providing suggestions and tips that can help neurodivergent individuals optimize their emails' clarity, tone, and more. Outlook also supports dictation functionality so users can speak their emails instead of typing them (this functionality is supported by Word, too).

Outlook will even tell you if the typography or formatting of your email could be functionally inaccessible to others. For example, if you're using color combinations in your font that could be hard to distinguish for certain people, you'll be notified about the potential issue.

Additionally, there's Microsoft Viva, which is designed to help employees focus and assess their personal wellness. It's set to get an upgrade soon courtesy of Ally.io.

For more details on Microsoft's accessibility efforts, check out the company's blog post.

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