New accessibility features coming to Windows 11

Marijn / ActiveB1t2 minute read

Windows 11 is getting a number of new accessibility features including live captions, dark mode in more areas, and more.

Several new features announced for the latest preview build of Windows 11 promise to provide a more accessible experience. The design of existing features is updated for a more consistent user experience. Here are some of the most interesting points coming in this release when it comes to accessibility in Windows 11.

Design, navigation and focus

Windows 11’s design principles apply to more areas, resulting in a more consistent user experience throughout. Certain icons are larger making them easier to see. And personally, I’m happy to see dark mode arriving to more areas, such as the Task Manager in this build.

The Task Manager in Windows 11 in dark mode.

File explorer shows previews of items within that folder, which is certain to help those of us less organized to more quickly see which folder contains those memes and screenshots we saved a while ago.

New touch gestures allow users to open the start menu, quick settings, and notification center by swiping. In full-screen apps, a “gripper” appears first when a user swipes close to the edge. This prevents any accidental swipes from taking you away from your content.

Starting focus sessions is made easier and a new, easy to toggle, do-not-disturb mode is added. This helps those struggling to focus while notifications keep popping up, this is definitely something I’m personally keen to check out.

Speech and audio

A big new feature coming to this build is Live Captions, similar to those from Google on Android and Chrome. Windows’ Live Captions provide captions for spoken content from any sound source on the PC, including microphones. Location and appearance of the captions are customizable, and support seems limited to English (U.S.) content for now.

Live captions (launched from Quick Settings Accessibility flyout) generating captions for a video playing in the web browser.

Browsing using the built-in Edge browser and Narrator has improved, by providing more relevant information. Narrator also adds a new male voice option called “guy”.

Selecting which microphone is used by Voice Typing, if multiple are connected rolls out starting with this build. It adds new voice commands as well as support for automatically added punctuation. Additionally this build includes a profanity filter, enabled by default.

This build (Windows 11 Insider Preview Build 22557) released to the Dev channel, containing the least stable builds released for testing. So most of us will have to wait a little longer to test these features ourselves.

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(ActiveB1t)Website operationsHe/They

CIPT's resident one-person IT crew responsible for the looks, functionality, and accessibility of the site. Inclusion and accessibility troublemaker and creator of the Alt Or Not browser plugin for Twitter. Child of the 80's without an intention of growing up.

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