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Windows 10 gets accessibility improvements to cursor, screen reader, and more

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Microsoft is making some improvements to its Windows 10 accessibility features, specifically centered around making the text cursor easier to see and follow using the built-in Magnifier feature. There’s also new text-to-speech functionality being integrated into the Magnifier tool, as well as improvements to Narrator (the built-in Windows screen reader), all set to roll out in the May 2020 Update.

Microsoft had previously offered tools to adjust the size and color of the standard mouse cursor. Now it’s bringing similar options to the text cursor, allowing users with impaired vision to adjust the size, thickness, and color of the text cursor, along with adding a new, larger indication to easily find it on-screen. Similarly, the Magnifier feature will follow the text cursor in the middle of the display, just like it does with the regular mouse cursor.

Magnifier is also getting a new text-to-speech feature that will read out text in browsers or applications (Edge, Chrome, Firefox, Word, Outlook, and Powerpoint are all called out by name). To that end, there are new media control buttons in the Magnifier app, allowing users to easily control playback.

Lastly, Microsoft has made improvements to Narrator, its screen reading tool that makes it possible to use Windows without being able to see the screen. Microsoft is adding options to hear sounds instead of full phrases for toggling actions, and it’s adding better support for announcing capital letters and words. Narrator also offers a better experience when web browsing, adding support for Firefox, an option to automatically start reading webpages, and a feature that gives a summary of the entire page.