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3 May 2022

Microsoft has released new features for Microsoft 365 to help people with neurodiversity, including autism, ADHD, and dyslexia as part of World Autism Month. The new features included can be split into two sections; ‘Enhanced focus’, and ‘Support & improve reading & writing’.

The main addition was enhancing focus for people with neurodiversity is the ability to customise and reduce Microsoft Teams notifications. This includes being able to mute notifications during Teams meetings, along with the ability to configure specific activity feed notifications by right-clicking each notification. For users of Microsoft Viva, there are now focus options including focus goals and focus plans.

There are now also options to simplify viewing on Teams, including customising chat density settings, using a custom background or blurring the background during meetings, and hiding your video, reducing distractions. Also, new noise suppression features are coming, similar to the ones found on Stream.

New proofing tools will be available within this update as text prediction, which helps to simplify the writing process, can now be used on Outlook, with new languages being added and more to come.  The ability to search with your voice is now available in Microsoft Word for Windows.  This feature is helpful for users with dyslexia as it can remove typed errors by speaking instead. The Read-Aloud feature has also been added to Word for IOS and Android tablets.

Accessibility can now be checked while working on Excel, Word and PowerPoint, with the Excel Navigation Pane on its way. Mac users can also now add alt text to images in Teams.

Find out more about the updates at Microsoft Accessibility Blog.