Over the past year, our engineers have been working hard towards meeting the Office accessibility standards outlined in this 2016 accessibility roadmap. We have been focused on creating an accessible experience for two user scenarios:
· Creating and consuming content inside of the database
· Navigating through the application and database
Here are some improvements which are available now to all Office 365 subscribers:
Table screen reader improvements
The basis of Access, tables, received several bug fixes and improvements to properly communicate information out to the user. Through Narrator, the built-in screen reader in Windows, information about the row, column, data type, and value will now be narrated out to the user. We’ve verified that when focus is on each of the different data types in table datasheet view, the appropriate information is read by Narrator. These accessibility improvements will allow users to better understand the structure of the table and the data contained within it.
Navigating through forms using the F6 keyboard shortcut
Forms contain different sections such as the header, detail, and footer and each section can contain separate controls. We’ve added new functionality to Access to allow a user to quickly move focus to the first control inside of the next form section. By using the F6 keyboard shortcut, for example, a user can move from the header section directly into the first item in the detail section. Additionally, subforms nested within any section will also have access to this functionality once focus is moved into the subform.
Form functionality and narration improvements
End users of Access databases interact mainly through forms so we’ve made improvements to the keyboard functionality of all controls on forms. We’ve verified that keyboard interactions with all controls on forms provides a better accessibility experience and that the appropriate control information is read by Narrator.
High contrast and visual improvements
For database users with vision impairments, such as cataracts or color blindness, Microsoft Office and Microsoft Windows have made platform improvements to help users interact with data and commands in Access with less eye strain. When users enable high contrast mode in Windows, they can see text more visibly against a contrasting background with different colors for links and disabled text.
For users with high resolution monitors we’ve have improved the rendering for high DPI settings to take more advantage of the pixel real estate. User interface surfaces will have higher DPI and won’t shrink to small sizes.
For database developers
The Access team created a design guide for developers to help make their databases more accessible for their end users. This design guide provides advice and tips on designing a database that is accessible for all and includes specific examples for developers creating Access applications. You can find this guide here .
Ways for you to get more information
Are you responsible for ensuring that the software products your organization develops or purchases meet accessibility requirements? You can find more useful information about accessibility in the Access Voluntary Product Accessibility Templates on this page: US Section 508 VPATs.
Do you have suggestions for how we can further improve accessibility within Access? Please send them to our user voice.