Accessibility Update for Windows 10 Mail


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.

Recent Improvements

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.

Getting Started

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.

Looking Forward

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/

 


Comments (5)
  1. Agus says:

    About the transparency about the progress… That's bullshit. Every update of the Mail App comes without a changelog. Only one time it came with a start popup where it explained the feature of undo the delete message.

    If you want to be transparent you should talk about the changes that made the mail app in Windows 10 different from the one on Windows 8.1 and why the sync is different and the reasons behind it. (Honestly I really want to know this, because the way it works now is really broken).

    Also it could be interesting if you could talk about the future enhancements that are going to take place to the apps, and that way we would truly see if the feedback given by the users is making a difference or it's just a waste of time.

  2. Jason says:

    The Windows 10 Mail app on Mobile is the most pathetic mail app on any platform. The formatting on emails is horrendous and compared to the Outlook apps on Android and iOS it's a pathetic attempt. Microsoft should be ashamed they finalized Windows 10 Mobile with this app as it's mail client. No wonder Windows Mobile is dying.

  3. Casey says:

    I do use a screen reader and I was pleasantly surprised to find that the mail app did work better with Narrator and NVDA!

    Thanks very much!

  4. Atul says:

    I think all these enhancements are good, but can we hope to get an experience similar to the iPhone outlook app in Windows 10 Mail app? I'd assume you could port that app using the iOS bridge for Windows 10? If not a replacement for the mail app, at least allow that as an option – I don't find the current mail app very useful.

    So far, I've seen a lot more updates to the outlook app on iPhone that add/enhance features than what I've seen in Windows 10 mail app. Also, since clicking on the calendar button from mail app opens up another app, it feels like I'm getting the same feeling as I got with the start screen on Windows 8 – feels like it just broke my train of thoughts. You may have a very valid reason to keep this behavior, but can we please get an option where we can select how it behaves?

  5. Dave Williams says:

    Hi Dan

    While blind and low vision folks truly appreciate Microsoft's retrospective efforts to resolve the accessibility issues with the Windows 10 Mail app, going forward, please view this as an opportunity for reviewing quality assurance processes to guarantee Microsoft always release accessible.

    Clearly with all the awesome work you guys have done in the accessibility area since 1997, Microsoft understand the importance of providing perceivable, operable and understandable UI components for assistive technologies and disabled users. And we in the community are ready and willing to test for accessibility prior to release. I would be willing to sit with the Mail app team and do agile functional testing with a screen reader and demonstrate accessibility issues for developers.

    It is really not acceptable to release a mainstream desktop operating system, 18 years after the advent of MSAA, with an inaccessible email client. You know Microsoft can and must do better.

    Accessibility is a mindset, not a checklist.

    Dave

Comments are closed.