Windows 10 upgrade considerations for screen reader and magnifier users

UPDATE: Narrator and reader functionality in Windows 10 were updated in the Anniversary Update. Check for updates to make sure you have the latest features. For more information, check out our more recent blog, "Making progress on accessibility with the Windows 10 Anniversary Update".  


This blog post was written by Rob Sinclair, Microsoft’s Chief Accessibility Officer. Rob is responsible for the company's worldwide strategy to develop software and services that make it easier for people of all ages and abilities to see, hear, and use their computers.


On July 29, Windows 10 becomes available for PCs and tablets, and will be available on additional devices by the end of the year. If you currently use Assistive Technologies (AT), like screen readers or magnifiers, your experience on Windows 10 will be similar in many ways to what you are accustomed to on Windows 7 and Windows 8.1. In addition, Windows 10 introduces new features and applications that will continue to improve as we deliver Windows as a service to our customers over time.

For the most accessible Windows 10 experience possible, I suggest the following:

  • Ask your AT manufacturer about Windows 10 compatibility, their recommended upgrade process, and timing.
  • Set your default web browser to Internet Explorer for a more accessible web browsing experience.
  • Install a 3rd party PDF reader like Adobe Reader, for a more accessible PDF reading experience.
  • Use the Outlook and Office desktop applications for a more accessible email and productivity experience.
  • If you have a secondary computer, consider upgrading this one first, to familiarize yourself with the Windows 10 experience.

If you have upgraded to Windows 10 and find your AT is not working as expected, or you’ve encountered an accessibility issue, please consider the following options:

We’re continuing to work with our AT partners to improve the accessibility of the Windows 10 experience and we value your feedback. If you haven’t done so already, please consider joining the Windows Insider Program to share your experiences and suggestions with us.






Comments (23)
  1. tapper says:

    Thanks for this post but what about all the things you are leveing out, like the fact that jaws cant even be installed after build 10130 and NVDA works fine but the stor cant be used  modden aps cant be used by people with screenreaders. what good are modden aps if they cant beused with a screenreader?

  2. tapper says:

    Hang on you say "• Set your default web browser to Internet Explorer for a more accessible web browsing experience." So what about MS Edge left out of that again too! scru it think i will stick with firefox thanks anyway!

  3. Florian Beijers says:

    Might be good to mention that there is currently a breaking accessibility bug in the clean install process of Windows 10 as well, making it very difficult for fully blind users to complete this process. You don't run into this when you upgrade from an existing installation of Windows 7 or 8.1.

  4. tapper says:

    O yeah and i joind the Windows Insider Program  but cant leev feed back cus the Insider hub is not a11y hahaha are you trying to take the mic out of people with this post?

  5. Casey Mathews says:

    I think it's great that Microsoft is concerned about the access technology needs for people with disabilities. However, I would like to see the more modern interfaces of Windows 10 get the same treatment. As a screen reader user I resent the fact that in many cases as your post mentions I need to resort to an older/and/or different and related  software to maintain best accessibility. I am a tech enthusiast, so I would actually like to use Edge etc. Of course I realize that some of the AT companies will need to change the software to accommodate new UI changes. I have seen what's been done with Narrator for office online, and I like the direction that's going.


  6. Anatoliy says:

    Thank you for all the work you do to improve accessibility for windows. Hopefully one day windows will be like some other products; where I can pick up a brand new device, triple click one button, and completely have it accessible with all native apps, settings UI etc. I also hope JFW doesn’t take another year to catch up with another major release. Still patriot of windows, but it’s getting harder and harder every year, less and less accessibility support. Loved the days of XP where 99% of OS were completely accessible and for some reason developers now decided that blind people do not need access to some areas of OS or if they really need it, they can use command prompt or power shell

  7. Paul M says:

    This post seems indicative of the majority of large tech companies. Assistive technology always seems to fall into the "it would be nice" category instead of the "we need this to prevent disenfranchising the disabled" catrogry.

    I'm sure it is equally frustrating for the AT advocates within MS who know that accessibility is going to get neglected and dropped as the release milestones draw near.

    Thus the only solution to the new features is… just turn it off.

  8. Gary says:

    Are you working with Nuance, maker of Dragon NaturallySpeaking?  Please remember that not all persons with disabilities are blind nor do all AT users use screen readers.  MANY of us use speech recognition software.  Designing to screenreaders doesn't make the web or other ICT necessarily accessible to the rest of us.

  9. Gary, you raise a good point and yes we are working with the folks at Nuance.

  10. tapper says:

    Hi Daniel Hubbell out of all the points made is that all you have to say?

  11. Adi Kushnir says:

    Hi. As the Hebrew localizer for the JAWS for Windows screen reader, I am not afraid to say that I am a bit disappointed with Microsoft's work. Freedom scientific does a fantastic job to get JAWS going and running as well as they can. But, the fact that edge is not supported by screen readers makes it hard to go. Take for example the Windows clean installation dialog, where you have to login with your Microsoft account. Narrator just says "core input…" and it's not accessible even with the narrator cursor keys. And, why? Why Microsoft does not add anything to the Windows PE that would allow a blind user to install Windows from a clean install without sited help or special tools such as LevTec winstaller? You say that you are doing the best for accessibility. Can you please tel me where? And when? Why should we stuck using IE? IE is a sluggish browser now and we have to use Firefox or other alternatives. And, the modern or universal apps have lots of potencial to be accessible, but they are not that much. And, how can you even call Narrator a screen reader? The updates to it are so small… I really thank companies like Freedom Scientific for all the work they do, that you as Microsoft don't do. Other companies, direct compeditors of you, have accessible mainstream devices. And yes, I am a part of the Windows insider program, but I can not even submit feedback! haha ha ha ha! how funny is that! I really wish Microsoft a success. If you need me for help and want to here my voice for improving, send me an email to the following address:

    And, this blog post is a very bad thing you do!

  12. John Hedges says:

    Microsoft Edge is broken in accessibility,I hope this is fixed soon. It reminds me of Internet Explorer 4.0 that had access removed on release, which was bolted back on later. I can be more productive not upgrading for now.

  13. John says:

    Dear Microsoft, I eagerly joined the windows 10 insider program as a screen reader user.  I saw your accessibility support improve with the introduction of narrator in windows 8 and some moddest but noteworthy enhancements in windows 8.1.  Given your recent introduction of the accessibility support line, I had high hopes for you in terms of building upon the foundation you created in windows 8.1.  To that end, I made sure to provide feedback about glitches I found while running windows with Narrator.  As of build 10162, I've noticed that few issues have been addressed and narrator remains difficult to use.  For instance, when using internet explorer, your recommended browser for screen readers, I often find that when I change the navigation mode from items to paragraphs or lines in narrator, I am taken back to the top of a web page.  I must then navigate through all the content again to get back to my previous spot.  Why can't narrator at least remember my place when switching from item navigation, its default mode,  to paragraphs, lines, words, etc?  I have posted about this bug in windows 8.1, and have mentioned it at least once via feedback in the windows 10 preview.  Why has this continuously fallen on deaf ears?  BTW, it is worth mentioning that even this comment edit field is not reading properly with narrator.  I cannot review what I've written using the arrow keys and do not hear words as I'm typing.  I must make use of a third-party product and IE.  I do not mean to be negative, but I get a strong impression that my comments haven't been taken seriously. I close with one final piece of advice.  Microsoft, if you want to see windows 10 be that "perfect 10" you're advertising it as, please make sure it is so for all groups of consumers.  I'm not expecting narrator to be the ultimate solution for everybody, but in its current form, it struggles to provide even a basic level of usability in most modern windows apps and on many internet web sites.  Please look into the feedback you've received from users and make necessary modifications accordingly.  1111

  14. David says:

    I also appreciate Microsoft being willing to continue to be accessible to all users but was surprised at how little development and advancement could be found on Windows 10. I use voice recognition, magnification, and screen reading programs in all things technology. It appears that the accessible tools included with Windows 10 have not any great advancements since Windows 8.1 and for the magnification system Windows 95. I've been hoping to see the magnification software to start to resemble programs such as Zoom text. The built-in voice recognition program takes training but is doable. I still primarily use Dragon but it would be nice to one day rely only on the Microsoft version. The text reading program navigator was one that I thought Microsoft could excel and has applications for beyond persons with disabilities. NVDA was working on version 10 but as of the last update started to crash. This may be a reflection of the program and not Windows 10 but I will keep evaluating it. I will continue to post comments to the preview form and hope that Windows 10 will continue in their accessibility.

  15. Aleksandar says:

    What Microsoft accessibility team doing?

    Mostly nothing.

    Drinking coffies, whiskey and earning money for sitting in offices.

    Shame on you!

    Windows 10 is on development before october 2014, and you are doing nothing!

    Your valuable Microsoft edge, beeeep…

    And, what?

    You recommend us to use oldy IE?


    What's this blog is talking about?

    You are trying to wash your dirty hands.

    The blind users around the world, are not your priority. We are not a mainstream and you could not collect a huge money from us.

    Its the reason that we will wait for edge to work until 2018.

    I am proud that I am Insider, but your work in accessibility team is really really bad.

    Hey, you are accessibility team, dedicated to work only that!

    And, what we got accessible in final Windows 10?

    You need to watch at Apple Mac accessibility, than you will see how perfect accessibility teams works!

  16. Bob says:

    You know  Microsoft has failed in accessibility when they brag about being able to ask Cortana about directions…and, o yes, SURPRISE! As a blind user with a screen reader I can't read the directions. Shame on you, Microsoft. And the accessibility team. How ironic is it that the Chief of the team has to write a blog post detailing where Windows 10 fails in accessibility? Just…LOL.

  17. Michael says:

    This post sounds like a dodge and buck passing. What it is really saying is that the buit-in screen reader and magnifier is the same old, nothing new or improved. What it is saying is if you upgrade and your current AT does not work with windows 10, then to bad, so sad, let your AT company fix it. What you are saying is we got a new improved browser for you, Edge, but stick with our unreliable, low-functionality browser, Internet Explorer (this is progress?).  You sound like a politician on the campaign trail, always on the dodge and never committing himself. Chief Accessibility officer, or Chief Hypocrite? This post is typical of companies that hire mouth pieces to crow about commitment to serving the accessibility needs of the of the challenged (a less insulting term than "disabled" which most people who are challenged are not) or of fair hiring practices for the challenged. Take your windows 10 and put it back on the drawing board where it belongs. Tweak it to do something useful rather what it really is, amodel constructed to sell services and make money.

    I have been toying with the idea of a Linux for a while . Now seems a good time to make the leap.

  18. Thepipe says:

    I have ARMD and will need to use Windows Magnifier because the magnifying software I've used for years is not compatible with Win 10 and it looks like the developer will not be updating it.  The software is called HyperLens (  It's an ideal choice for many with low vision because it has significantly more options than Windows Magnifier and a much better UI and UX.  Plus, unlike many AT programs, it doesn't cost hundreds or thousands of dollars.  It's just $50!

    Hey Microsoft … do yourself a favor.  Earn some much needed positive pr by buying this program (or the entire company) and make it compatible with Windows 10.  Then, provide it as a replacement or alternative to Windows Magnifier.

  19. Donna W. Hill says:

    As a Jaws 16 & Windows 7 user, I recently contacted MS's Answer Desk online chat & then spoke to the accessibility desk about MS's Help pages online, using IE.  

    I have to listen to the word "clickable" every other word to read through many of the Help pages.  I suggested that this was a fixable problem with the code & that the info be forwarded to your website developers/webmaster.

    Neither the Answer Desk  rep nor the  disability hotline person were able/willing to forward my suggestions about this to your accessibility team. The Answer desk refered me to the hotline & the hotline said all they can do is to check if Windows has any bugs, which it didn't.

    Accessibility online for MS is almost good, but here again I am confronting issues that are fixable which are causing me a significant investment of time to point out to you. When I started this message, I kept hearing the first comment being read and re-read as I typed in the edit field. I had to move over to Word to write my comments & then copy them online. In this comments section, I was disapointed that some of your Insiders are unable to communicate their feedback with you. What's up with that?

    Your interest in true accessibility is looking more like a PR stunt designed to give the public a warm and fuzzy moment rather than to actually fix your problems both with your products and online. Accessibility for screen readers, magnifiers & speech recognition is possible and exists in some places, but you still seem to hold the philosophy that blind people in particular can't be expected to do much in general, so we should be happy to be drug along by your half-hearted efforts while you try to convince the public that you are doing your best to help a group which can't be expected to be full participants in society in the first place. Lucky for you, they don't realize that the technology has been around for years to enable full digital accessibility. And lucky for you, no legal remedy for digital accessibility exists that would be comparable to the licensing requirements for architectural barriers.

  20. Brandon T says:


    The one area that I have to say I'm very disappointed in for Windows 10 is the start menu. Why can't we use first letter navigation in the places/most used/recently added apps/all apps menus?

    I have sent feedback on this many times in the windows feedback app and I have contacted the Disability Answer Desk about this as well and have not seen any improvements.

    I couldn't report it using the Insider Hub because I wasn't able to get the app to work with NVDA screen reader.

    Thank you very much for your time and I look forward to any input you may be able to provide on this issue.



  21. says:

    how to join your accessibility partner team as a AT producer?

  22. john says:

    The problem i see with this in all is this. If i want to run windows 10. I first cant install it with my screenreader on my computer at all. You got to fully un install the screen reader. Secondly i was told that there are several apps with in windows ten taht we cant even use. I heard roomers that there is a screen reader built in but again im not fully sure on the true spects on this. I only have one computer and would hate to install if it will only give me troubles. I need a computer that works in all ways with me running my own business at home.

  23. Bruce says:

    Eating your own dog food? Think I’ll wait until Windows 10.1 or Windows 12… these half-ass beta releases are tedious– either go full in for accessibility support or forget it.

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