Accessibility Features in Outlook

Posted January 18th, 2022 at 3:41 pm.

This article describes assistive technology features that you can turn on when using Outlook to make reading and writing email easier. For guidelines on how to create e-mails that are accessible to others, see Creating Accessible Emails in Outlook.

Outlook is part of Office 365/Microsoft 365, which all current students and employees can access online through a web browser and install on personal devices. The desktop version is installed on all college-owned computers.


Use Keyboard Shortcuts

You can use key combinations to navigate in Outlook and perform common menu operations such as opening, creating, replying to, forwarding and sending messages; creating meetings and tasks; switching between the Calendar, Mail and Tasks windows, and moving messages to folders. Keyboard shortcuts can be easier than using a mouse or trackpad for individuals with mobility or vision disabilities. Learning keyboard shortcuts for common tasks can help all user work more efficiently.

See Microsoft’s Keyboard shortcuts in Outlook for the most up-to-date information on shortcuts available in Outlook online (Office365) and the Outlook for Windows, Mac and iOS.

Dark Mode (Office 365 Only)

  1. Open Outlook in your browser and log in.
  2. Click Settings
  3. Toggle Dark Mode on.
  4. While Dark Mode is on you can use the Sun(View with light background) Moon (view with dark background) icons in the tool bar beneath a message to see only text for that message in a light background.

See Dark Mode in Outlook for details.

Read E-Mail in Immersive Reader

With both the web version and Outlook desktop apps you can read email in Microsoft’s Immersive Reader to take advantage of accessibility features such as font and spacing adjustments, line focus, and color overlays.

In the desktop version (recommended):

  • Open the Immersive Reader within the Reading Pane by clicking View > Immersive Reader.
  • Any email you highlight in your mailbox will now open in Immersive Reader.

In the web/Microsoft 365 version of Outlook:

  • You can only open one email at a time in Immersive Reader.
  • With the Mail tab open, click (ellipsis) in the top menu bar, and choose Show in immersive reader.
  • Click the arrow in the top left to return to your mailbox.

See Open Immersive Reader for Outlook for instructions on using its features.


Listen to Your E-Mail

The Read Aloud feature of Immersive Reader can also read email messages to you using text-to-speech. See Listen to Your Outlook Email Messages with Read Aloud.

Text Prediction (Office 365 only)

Outlook can speed or ease typing by predicting the next word or phrase as you type — press Tab or the right arrow to accept it’s suggestions, keep typing to ignore them. See Editor text predictions for more information, including how disable or re-enable this feature on and off.

Request Accessible Content (Office 365)

Turn this setting on at your account level to show other Bryn Mawr Outlook users a notice that “A recipient has requested accessible content” when they send email to you or copy you on an email. Depending the email composer’s settings, this may also turn on accessibility checking for that message, alerting them to issues like a lack of alternative text or problematic font settings..

  1. Log in to your Bryn Mawr webmail.
  2. Click (Settings) in the top left corner.
  3. Start typing “accessible content” in the search bar of the settings pane, then choose that option when it pops up.
  4. Check the Ask users to send accessible content box
  5. Close the settings window.

Support for Screen Reader Users

See Microsoft’s Screen Reader Support for Outlook provides detailed, device-specific information on how to navigate, perform tasks, and read content in Outlook when using a screen reader.

Filed under: Accessibility,Email,Outlook by Jenny Spohrer

Comments are closed.