While Apple is known for offering products with some the most complete built-in accessibility features available, many of the companies’ competitors have been putting similar focus into offering products with equally impressive built-in accessibility features. Microsoft, Samsung, Google, and many other tech giants have put a level of focus on accessibility that is unprecedented, and these innovations are happening fast, with many platforms and operating systems releasing major accessibility upgrades with every major update.
In today’s e-Bulletin, we’re going to look at Microsoft’s newest browser Edge, which was released in 2015 as a spiritual successor to Microsoft’s Internet Explorer browser. Edge is included with every Microsoft PC, which means that every Microsoft PC user will have immediate access to it. Of course, this browser has some fierce competition with the advent of other advanced 3rd party browsers such as Firefox and Chrome, with the latter offering an especially impressive suite of accessibility add-ons.
Edge’s Learning Tools offers a built-in suite of accessibility features designed to encourage alternate approaches to reading and learning, and it serves as Microsoft’s answer to other accessible browsers that are available for free to PC users. Now, let’s dive into some of the major features which are offered as part of Edge’s Learning Tools suite.
First, to access Edge’s accessibility features, users will first have to select “Reading View”, which is located on the right-hand side of the browser’s address bar. Select this option transform the web page into a simplified, text-emphasized, distraction-free format, which will then give users access to Edge’s various accessibility features.
Here, users can make changes to text size and themes. The page themes allow users to toggle between white, sepia, or black with white text, allowing users with visual challenges to view text in the way that is most suited to their needs. This can also be helpful with individuals who struggle with being distracted while reading.
With the Read aloud feature, users simply right click anywhere on the page and select “Read aloud”. If no text is selected, the browser will read the text aloud from the beginning of the article, or, if a specific section of text is selected before right clicking, that section will be read aloud. Once the read aloud feature is activated, a toolbar will appear at the top of the page, give users the ability pause, skip, play, and adjust the voice settings. Once the feature is activated, Read aloud will highlight each word as it’s being read, making a great tool for learning, studying, and general reading comprehension. Read aloud is available for webpages, PDFs, and ePubs.
Learning Tools not only gives users more advanced text options such as text spacing and more unique page themes to choose from, it also gives users the ability to break down words into syllables, as well as the ability to highlight nouns, verbs, and adjectives, making it a great tool for someone who is learning, or struggling with the English language. Finally, the Line focus feature allows users to focus in on 1,3, or 5 lines at a time, encouraging a high level of focus on the sentence at hand, which is often found to be of great benefit to users who struggle with attention-based challenges.
Please note that the features listed are subject to change and will likely be added upon in the future. Microsoft Edge is available for free for both PC and Mac.