Intelligent tools to support neurodiversity in the hybrid workplace: What’s new in Microsoft 365 accessibility for Spring 2022 | #firefox | #chrome | #microsoftedge

As we observe World Autism Month this April, I want to highlight several improvements across Microsoft 365 that help users focus on their work and support effective reading and writing. These are useful capabilities for everyone, but are especially important for those with cognitive differences like autism, ADHD, dyslexia, and dyspraxia – a group that, by some estimates, makes up as much as 40% of the population. 

Having been diagnosed with dyslexia early in life, this is more than an abstract statistic to me. When I was younger, I struggled with tasks such as reading and writing, which made everything else more challenging. I often found myself gravitating away from these activities, filling my time with skiing and playing music instead.

As much as I tried to escape it, I eventually realized that reading and writing were going to be part of my life and I needed to develop tools to navigate. When it came to reading, one of the hacks I leveraged was to identify the words based on the number of characters, allowing me to do a quick process of elimination to narrow in on the word.    

as the Office apps have expanded their accessibility features, I have found myself becoming a power user of features like Immersive Reader, Editor, and Thesaurus, allowing me to stop relying on my own internal hacks and leverage technology to overcome these challenges. This has completely transformed how I get things done and provided a new form of confidence that I never thought I would find.  

And those tools are continuing to improve and expand. Let’s take a closer look at how recent features in Microsoft 365 can support focus and productivity for neurodiverse and neurotypical workers alike.  

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