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Office 2016: Audio cues promise greater productivity for the blind

Microsoft has introduced sound effects in its Office 2016 apps.

The effects which are designed to help improve the productivity of users who are visually impaired provide audio cues for common tasks.

The feature will roll out over time to users of Excel 2016, Word 2016, Outlook 2016 and PowerPoint 2016 and, by extension, also Office 365.

The effects can be turned on or off by following these steps:

  1. In the File menu, select Options.
  2. On the Ease of Access tab, under Feedback Options, select or clear the Provide feedback with sound checkbox.
  3. If you wish, you can use the original Office sound effects by selecting the Classic theme from the Sound Theme drop-down.

Microsoft also provides the steps below for users who prefer to turn on the effects using the keyboard:

  1. Navigate to the File menu, then select Options. You can use the access keys Alt, then F, T.
  2. Once in the Options window, use the arrow keys to highlight Ease of Access.
  3. Press Tab to move to the Provide feedback with sound checkbox, then press Enter to select or clear the checkbox, which turns the sounds on or off, respectively.

With the sound effects turned on, a user who is blind or visually impaired now have an additional means to know when a wide range of tasks are completed.

The cues offer feedback for tasks such as changes in screen options and successful completion of actions, including sending and deleting a mail or pasting a content.

As with all other feature releases, Microsoft rolls out new improvements to users over time but the process can be sped up.