Microsoft’s Office suite is probably the 2nd most complicated software built by Microsoft – 1st is, of course, Windows. Microsoft has been building Office for more than two decades, and over these years the focus has not only been on adding features but also making them accessible.
Accessibility is important – there was a time when Office had a complicated interface, and you had to take classes to learn it; Microsoft fixed that by innovating upon the interface with the Ribbon design and brought sanity to the whole suite.
It doesn’t end there, though; accessibility is also important for those with special needs – that’s where all of the assistive technologies come in. Microsoft has worked very hard on building tools that can be used by those with special abilities to – and they still improve these tools continuously.
Learning Tools for OneNote
Learning Tools was introduced as an add-on and for OneNote and hit general availability back in July this year. The focus is to help educators build inclusive learning experiences for their students with special abilities.
It does this very well too – Learning Tools for OneNote was #1 in the ‘Top Dyslexia App of 2016’ list compiled by Dyslexic Advantage.
Learning Tools for Office
Now, Microsoft is planning to expand Learning Tools to the rest of the Office suite – starting with OneNote Online, Word, Word Online and Office Lens. These are the features that would be ported initially:
- text-to-speech reading with simultaneous text highlighting to help improve focus and comprehension
- syllabification and ‘parts of speech’ features, formerly part of the ‘Immersive Reader,’ to support word recognition and writing quality
- text spacing to help improve fluency for those impacted by ‘visual crowding’ issues
At the moment, Learning Tools is an add-on compatible with Office OneNote 2013 and 2016 and can be found over here.
Microsoft is also being very hush-hush regarding dates; we don’t know when to expect using Learning Tools with a Word document or in Office Lens, only that it is coming soon. We also don’t know how exactly would it be integrated with these applications – especially a curious question when it comes to Office Lens, considering it is a mobile application.
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