OneNote is changing to benefit users with vision and mobility impairments, Microsoft announced Thursday. The redesign will place navigation on the left-hand rail, where screen readers and Microsoft’s own Narrator will find it more accessible.
The redesign will apply to what Microsoft calls the Windows 10 (or UWP) version of OneNote, as well as the versions for iOS and Android, the Mac, and the Web. The traditional Win32 version of the software will apparently remain unaffected.
Microsoft has already built assistance for the visually or mobility-impaired directly into Windows 10, with a hands-free, Cortana-driven out-of-the-box setup experience. In the upcoming Fall Creators Update, Microsoft said Thursday that it plans to add a feature that lets Windows 10’s Narrator function explain keyboard commands and read apps more like a webpage Windows will even use machine learning to “read” images and provide descriptions where none are available.
Video of the new changes within Microsoft’s blog post, however, appears to show one or just two columns in use, suggesting the columns will either “fly out” or compress when not in use. Microsoft didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
What we’d hope for: Placing OneNote’s navigation on the left-hand rail to benefit screen readers makes sense, and the option to increase the size of the UI does, too. Ideally Microsoft will strike some compromise between users who need the larger interface, however, and those whose work might be visually impeded by larger navigation elements.