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How to Make IT More Accessible and Unlock Workplace Potential


Accessibility is the key that unlocks boundless workplace potential.

Given that diverse workplaces are proven to outpace less diverse ones, organisations who prioritise Diversity, Equality and Inclusion are better poised to innovate and thrive.

Making IT systems and digital documents accessible to everyone actively removes barriers that might be stopping your teams from working at their best.

So, let’s dive into a few benefits of workplace accessibility, explore some eye-opening stats about disability in the UK, inspect some of Microsoft’s available accessibility tools, and learn how to make your digital documents accessible to all.

What are the Benefits of Providing Accommodations in the Workplace?

There are many benefits to providing workplace accommodations, including:

  • Increased employee productivity and performance
  • Attracting and retaining a diverse talent pool
  • Increased morale and employee engagement
  • Positive employer brand and public perception.

Workers’ rights to reasonable accommodations are protected in UK law. According to, “Employers must make reasonable adjustments to make sure workers with disabilities, or physical or mental health conditions, are not substantially disadvantaged when doing their jobs.”

Individuals don’t need to have a permanent disorder or disability in order to find accommodations useful. This is especially true of the accommodations we will be discussing today as they could help most people with concentration, focus, and productivity.

Also remember that accommodations can be useful for individuals who are dealing with a temporary health condition or managing a condition that fluctuates over time.

Even if you don’t think someone has a health condition or disability, or they haven’t disclosed it to you, that doesn’t mean it’s not necessarily present. Lingering stigma around disability and health conditions in the workplace causes some individuals to avoid disclosing their health status, fearing it may disadvantage them.

However, providing accommodations and creating a truly inclusive workplace encourages your teams to be open about any challenges they may be facing.

A Few Statistics

Depending on the size of your team, it may be statistically likely that some of your colleagues have a disability or health challenge of some kind. Let’s take a look at how many people in the UK are affected, in no particular order:

Some Accommodations in Microsoft Products

Now let’s explore some ways that you can provide important software accommodations in Microsoft products. Many of the Windows 11 accommodations below are available by default, but some associated with what was the “Office” suite might need enabling organisation-wide in your Microsoft 365 tenant.

Read Aloud Functions

Can be useful for people with: Visual Impairment, Dyslexia, Sensory Processing Issues, Colour Vision Deficiency, Migraine, Eye Conditions, and those who simply prefer to digest information audibly.

Screen reading functions are incredibly useful for those who may struggle to read text. They are also useful for busy people who may wish to listen to a document’s contents while they carry out other tasks. Hearing a document read aloud can also help you identify mistakes in the text that you have written.

How to Access Read Aloud Functions

In Word (under the “Review” tab) and Outlook (under the “Home” tab), simply click “Read Aloud.” In Outlook, the Read Aloud function may need to be activated through Options. In Edge, to the right of the address bar, look for the icon with a capital “A” with two lines by it. This will read the webpage you are viewing out loud.

Read aloud function in word

Immersive Reading Mode

Can be useful for people with: Visual Impairment, Dyslexia, Sensory Processing Issues, Colour Vision Deficiency, Migraine, Eye Conditions, Issues that affect focus and concentration, or simply to remove distractions.

Immersive reading mode lets you apply colour, font, and display options that can help provide a clear, distraction-free reading experience.

How to Access Immersive Reading Mode

In Word, head over to “View” and click on “Immersive Reader.” You’ll be presented with a number of options to adjust how the text is displayed. These include adjustments to text size, font, and spacing; background colour (especially useful for those with Dyslexia or Colour Vision Deficiency); toggling a line focus overlay; and even splitting the text into syllables.

Access to Immersive Reading Mode

Line Focus


Syllables Illustration


In Edge, you can simply hit F9 or click on the book icon in the address bar to find a similarly generous range of text display options.

Contrast Controls

Can be useful for people with: Visual Impairment, Colour Vision Deficiency, Eye Conditions

Contrast controls are useful for those who find it easier to discern visual elements when they are presented in high contrast colours. Windows contrast controls present text and navigation elements in high contrast colours and remove non-essential graphical elements to make the screen more legible.

How to Access Contrast Controls

This can be set up through going to Windows Settings, heading to Accessibility, and choosing Contrast themes. Once you have chosen a theme that suits your needs, you can hit Alt, left Shift, and Print Screen to turn High Contrast mode on and off.

How to Access Contrast Controls


Can be useful for people with: Hearing Impairment, Audio Processing Issues, Issues that affect focus and concentration, maintaining focus in noisy or distracting surroundings.

If displaying spoken audio as text would be useful for you, then Windows now lets you enable live captions. Understandably this can be useful for those with hearing impairments and tinnitus, but it can also help you focus more intensely on what is being said in a meeting or video.

How to Access Windows Captions

Head to Windows Settings, Accessibility, and then Captions. If you haven’t used the function before, you will need to agree to Microsoft’s terms in order to process your PC’s audio data, and download the software where prompted. Once this is done, hit the Windows Key, Ctrl, and L to toggle live captions on and off.

How to Access Windows Captions


Can be useful for people with: Visual Impairment, Colour Vision Deficiency, Migraine, Eye Conditions

This basically does what it says on the tin! Magnifies (effectively “zooms in”) to the screen in line with your mouse cursor movement.

How to Access Windows Magnifier

Head to Windows settings, select Accessibility, and then pick Magnifier. Here you can set how much you would like the Magnifier to zoom in. When you are happy with the settings, you can toggle the magnifier on here - or press the Windows Key and the plus or minus sign to zoom in or out of your screen.

How to Access Windows Magnifier

Narrator/Screen Reader

Can be useful for people with: Visual Impairment, Migraine, Eye Conditions

Windows features powerful screen reader functions that read the content of your screen out loud.

How to Access Windows Narrator

Head to Windows Settings, click on Accessibility, and then select Narrator. There are a number of controls here. When you are happy with these options, you can press the Windows Key, Ctrl, and Enter to switch Narrator on and off.

How to Access Windows Narrator

Dictation Functionality

Can be useful for people with: Dyslexia, Manual Dexterity Issues, Chronic Pain, Limb Difference, Issues that affect focus and concentration, or simply getting ideas onto a page.

Understandably, being able to dictate a document rather than type it makes it far easier for those who find typing challenging. But they can be useful in other ways too. Sometimes, it’s easier to speak aloud something you want to say within a document, so dictation tools can be useful in breaking through writers’ block!

How to Access Dictate Functions

In Word, simply hit the “Dictate” button in the Home tab. Windows has a dictation function that you can access whenever you need. Simply hit the Windows Key and H keys together and it will appear.

How to Access Dictate Functions

And More!

There are many more accessibility options available in Windows, including alterations to your text and mouse cursor; screen-flashing notifications; eye-tracking controls; voice access controls; colour filters; and more.

And as Copilot, Microsoft’s AI tool, becomes more and more ingrained into Windows and Microsoft productivity software, the sky could really be the limit in terms of making any digital experience truly accessible!

How to Make Documents Accessible for All

Remember, it’s easier to create a document with accessibility in mind than it is to re-format a document for accessibility. Even with accommodations, there are things we can all do to make the documents we create accessible for everyone. Here are some important considerations:

  • Establish a clear, hierarchical structure for headers within your document to aid understanding.
  • Favour file types that work well with screen readers, such as Word .docx documents, PDF files where the text is selectable, PowerPoint .pptx files, simple TXT files, and HTML web pages.
  • Ensure that any images you use in your documents are clearly legible. All relevant images should include descriptive alt text so screen reading software can relay the contents of the image.
  • Be aware of contrasting colours that may make the document harder for people with colour vision deficiency to read.
  • Be mindful that you aren’t making your text too small and that your text has a strong, legible contrast against its background.
  • Use the Check Accessibility tool within Word & PowerPoint. This checks for various potential accessibility problems within a document.
  • It's important to note the Reading Order Pane in PowerPoint, which you'll find by clicking the small down arrow on the Check Accessibility button. This brings up a pane that displays the presentation's text in the order it will be read out by screen reading software. You may notice here that the text is shown in the order that the text was inserted into the presentation, not necessarily the order in which the final presentation is displayed. Ensure that the display order and the Reading Pane order are the same to ensure maximum accessibility.

About NASHability ERG

Crimson is a NASH Squared brand, and as such we are incredibly fortunate to play an active part in our parent’s various Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Employee Resource Groups - not least NASHability.

NASHability focuses on supporting NASH Squared Group employees who are neurodivergent, have mental health issues, or have physical accessibility needs; helping them do their best work and live their best lives. Our aim is to sustainably enable all people to feel respected and valued for who they are and what they do.

Learn more about how Crimson supports customers, candidates, and employees with Diversity and Inclusion.

Tech Accessibility Resources

Why employers should be embracing neurodiversity

Coblis Color Blindness Simulator

Inclusive Design Resources from Microsoft

Microsoft’s The Accessible and Inclusive Workplace Handbook