Office gets accessibility updates, change tracking in OneDrive with December upgrade

Kit McDonald

As we saw at Ignite 2016, Microsoft wants to make it easier for organizations to better support accessibility initiatives. One such advantage is through the use of Microsoft Office, the prized jewel of the company’s software products and the choice of most businesses.  Today, VP of the Office team Kirk Koenigsbauer released an Office blog post giving a deeper look at the latest new accessibility features.

The Accessibility Checker is ensuring that your content is available to the most audience possible such as those with limited vision and other ailments. By clicking ‘Check Accessibility’ under the Review tab, you’ll be brought specific points of interest that can make your content easier to access with little tips such as providing alternative text for images that screen readers will utilize. This feature is rolled out to Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Visio on Windows, Office for Mac, and Office Online.

Microsoft is also breaking out the big guns to improve PowerPoint and Word’s intelligent image analysis. With the Microsoft Computer Vision Cognitive Service, users will get automatic suggestions for image alternative text.

Both of these will work wonders with the MailTip in Outlook feature. Users can specify specific accessibility features they need and Outlook will notify the sender of these needs, making communication easier with minimal miscommunication. Currently, the MailTip in Outlook is available to commercial customers through Office 365 on the web, but will be available ‘soon’ on desktop for businesses.


Perhaps the most convenient out of all the Office additions is the new hyperlinking that we’ll see in the upcoming months for Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook. Inserting a hyperlink will result in a list of Recent Items that you can pick from including websites and recently used files from SharePoint and OneDrive. Clicking on the recent item will cleanly display the name of the file or site instead of the URL, a nice feature in its own right.

One other update that wasn’t mentioned in the blog post today is the addition of an activity feed for OneDrive, according to an email we received. Customers will be able to view and restore changes in shared documents, keeping track of who made changes and exactly what through the feed. This is one feature that many users on Uservoice have been wanting for years and now they can access it on