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Microsoft outlines Edge accessibility features at Ability Summit

Microsoft Edge Update Dev New2
Microsoft Edge Update Dev New2 (Image credit: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • Microsoft's 12th Annual Ability Summit started today, May 10, 2022.
  • The event centers around improving access to technology.
  • As part of the event, Microsoft outlined several new accessibility features for its Edge browser.

Microsoft began its Ability Summit today, May 10, 2022. At the event, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and several other speakers will discuss technology accessibility. As part of the summit, the tech giant outlined how it ensures that its Edge browser is accessible to a wide range of users.

Liat Ben-Zur, a Microsoft corporate vice president, ran through several features in Edge in an update. All of the features discussed have been available since before today's summit, but the event serves as a way to highlight the company's efforts to make the web accessible.

In February of this year, Microsoft rolled out automatic image descriptions for Edge. When people who are blind or have low vision browse the web using a screen reader, some information is unavailable. Screen readers need alternative text, also known as alt text, to describe images and other content. Microsoft explained that over half of all images processed by screen readers do not have alt text, creating a gap in accessibility.

Automatic image description in Edge generates alt text for images lacking information. Users can enable the tool through edge://settings/accessibility by toggling the option for "Get image descriptions from Microsoft for screen readers."

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Editor Microsoft Edge

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Text Prediction Editor Edge

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Immersive Reader Edge

Edge also has a Read aloud feature and an Immersive Reader that make it easier to consume content. As its name suggests, Read aloud reads text out loud. Microsoft highlighted that the tool helps people with dyslexia, ADHD, and temporary disabilities due to circumstances or injury browse the web. The feature supports over 40 languages at the moment.

The Immersive Reader in Edge recreates websites in a way that minimizes distractions. The tool is customizable and supports changing font, text spacing, and themes.

In March 2022, Microsoft added Editor to the Edge browser. The tool allows people to review text for grammar or spelling errors and improve their writing. Editor was already available for Word and PowerPoint and made its way to Microsoft's browser earlier this year.

And the end of their post, Ben-Zur invited developers to help make the web a more inclusive space. They also shared several tools for devs, including accessibility-testing features from Microsoft.

In addition to its features for Edge, Microsoft covered its accessibility tools for Xbox gaming at its summit. The tech giant also announced new adaptive PC accessories and highlighted accessibility features for Windows 11.

Sean Endicott
Sean Endicott

Sean Endicott is the news writer for Windows Central. If it runs Windows, is made by Microsoft, or has anything to do with either, he's on it. Sean's been with Windows Central since 2017 and is also our resident app expert. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at sean.endicott@futurenet.com.