We’ve all seen yellow text on a white PowerPoint slide, purple headers on a dark Word file, or other examples of documents that are too hard to read. A new assistant feature coming to Microsoft Office apps aims to stop people from going too wild with the color picker.
Microsoft announced a new feature in a blog post, called Accessibility Assistant in Microsoft 365, which aims to fix accessibility issues across your documents. The company said, “Accessibility Assistant introduces three key innovations: better defaults to prevent issues before they occur, real-time and in-context remediation to correct issues as they arise, and clear, simple guidance that appears in the flow of work.”
Accessibility Assistant’s main function right now is helping people pick better colors for their documents. For example, almost everyone struggles to read yellow text on a white background, and people with reduced vision or other problems might not be able to see it at all. There’s a new toggle for “High-contrast only” in the color picker, which will help you select colors that are easily readable, including colors based on the current theme.
The Accessibility Assistant can also recognize issues in existing documents, like a spellchecker. If an issue is detected in your document, you’ll see a small icon of a person that looks like a bit like the old AIM logo, and clicking it will show recommendations for document changes. Later in 2023, a dedicated Accessibility Assistant pane will roll out with a similar design as Microsoft Editor, with “plain-language explanations that help you address entire categories of accessibility issues more easily.”
Accessibility Assistant will start rolling out to the core Microsoft 365 apps “in the coming weeks,” though it may be limited to Word on Windows at first. Microsoft hopes that the feature will eventually replace the more basic Accessibility Checker that was introduced in Office 2016.