By Kate Everitt, Program Manager, Windows 10 Mail
Microsoft is committed to delivering inclusive experiences. As CEO Satya Nadella recently wrote, we are proactively taking steps and implementing a strategy to ensure we make progress on this goal across the company.
Part of this commitment involves enhancing the accessibility of our services and increasing the transparency about our progress. Today, we want to share how we’re improving Mail for Windows 10 to enhance usability with screen readers. We welcome your feedback as we continue this work throughout the year.
Using Mail today
Narrator, the screen reader built into Windows 10, currently provides the most complete experience when using Mail. We are working closely with the Microsoft UI Automation (UIA) team to continue improving both Mail and the platform. We know that many of you are using other screen readers, and we are also working with the developers of other screen readers and assistive technology vendors to improve the Mail experience here as well.
We are excited about the flexibility you have to update Mail frequently via the Microsoft Store. Since the initial release of Windows 10 last summer, we have made many improvements to the accessibility of the Mail app. Here are some of the updates we have made since we first shipped:
- There is more predictable keyboard behavior so you always know where you are in the app.
- Navigation is more familiar. You can move to the content of an email using the Enter key instead of the F6 Key, and use the Escape key to move back to the message list.
- Reading mails with bullet points with Exchange accounts is more reliable when using a screen reader.
- We’ve worked on improving the names of items and information used by screen readers as you move around the mail app, so you have more information that you need and less that you do not.
- You can enjoy a more efficient reading experience for complex emails.
Here are a few tips to help you get started when using Mail with a screen reader:
- Because we are continually improving, get the latest version of “Mail and Calendar” by Microsoft Corporation from the Microsoft Store.
- Make sure you have an up-to-date screen reader such as Narrator, JAWS 17, NVDA 2015.4, Window Eyes 9.3.1 or later.
- Narrator is the recommended screen reader – you can turn it on by pressing the Windows key + Enter, and Caps + M to read an email.
- Incoming messages are grouped by conversation by default. You can change a setting to list each message individually, if you prefer.
- If you are having difficulty reading emails, you may get a better experience by turning on Caret browsing with F7.
We have published several help documents to give an understanding of how Mail works with a screen reader, including Get help for using a screen reader with Mail for Windows 10 and a list of Keyboard Shortcuts for Windows 10.
Our focus for Mail over the next few months will be on enhancing the screen reader experience for reading complex emails and improving the account setup experience. Microsoft is working hard to make it easier for people with disabilities to communicate, consume and create content on any device, and for everyone to create accessible content. We will post regular updates about our progress on this initiative via http://www.microsoft.com/accessibility.
If you’re interested in providing help or suggestions, we would love to get your feedback via the Windows Insider Program. For support, contact the Microsoft Disability Answer Desk or this blog: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/accessibility/