Inclusive and accessible content with new features in Office 365

Published by Caroline Carlin on

In our second blog post exploring new Office 365 features we’re looking at those tools which can help increase inclusivity in teaching for all students. These are available within Microsoft Office for Office365, see our previous blog post1.  This time we’re exploring Microsoft Learning Tools! Features such as Immersive Reader and Read Aloud can help all people regardless of age and ability and have a wide variety of applications.  


Accessibility Checker is now easy to find on the Review tab.  The checker will analyse your file and recommend ways to make it more accessible e.g. using Heading Styles, Alternative Text for images, tables and charts. 

Translator is currently available in Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and OneNote.  In a nutshell, it enables you to translate text into approximately 60 other languages.  All these apps will translate a selected piece of text into your chosen language, whilst Word, OneNote and Outlook offer additional features: 

Word: Translate either selected text or create a copy of an entire document in a different language 

Outlook and OneNote: Translate a piece of selected text or use the Mini Translator to translate a different language into English and use the Play button to hear an audio pronunciation.  

Smart Lookup is a helpful feature to quickly verify facts and find additional information as you work. It’s just one click away. Highlight a word or phrase you want to research, right-click, and select Smart Lookup. Smart Lookup will find a definition, synonyms, and the parts of speech for any word you highlight…and will even do a quick search of the web using Bing!  



When you insert an image into Word or PowerPoint, intelligent image analysis will automatically suggest some alternative text.   


Immersive Reader 

Immersive Reader allows users to switch to a distraction-free reading environment by changing font sizes and spacing, break words into syllables, highlight parts of speech, narrow the line display so only a few lines show at once, and listen to the text read out loud. It is cross-platform, available in Microsoft programs, apps, and is even browser-based.  

To access Immersive Reader, just go to View and Learning Tools in OneNote, Word and the web version of Outlook. 

Ever been given a printed document and wanted to edit it?  Office Lens is a great new app which you can download to your mobile device which scans printed items which you can then share to other software such as Word and OneNote for annotation or editing.  Coupled with Immersive reader, you can have the printed items read aloud. 

Some handy shortcuts 

Windows logo key+ plus (+) to turn Windows magnifier on 

Windows logo key+ Esc to turn Windows magnifier off 

Windows logo key  + Plus (+) or Minus (-) (when the magnifier is on, zooms in or out) 

For more info about any of these take a look at this article on Accessibility features in Microsoft Office, categorised by visual, cognitive etc




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