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Neurodiversity Part 3: Microsoft Tips & Tricks

Neurodiversity Part 3 Microsoft Office Tips and Tricks

The neurodiverse community, for example, those with cognitive differences like autism, ADHD, Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, and Dyspraxia, might find company software inaccessible, frustrating, too slow, or distracting. Many of you might already know that Microsoft Office Suite has several features built-in which might help the neurodivergent employee. I will share a quick list of features. If after reading through this list, you’d like to learn more about a specific software function Microsoft has free training on their website. I will post the link at the end of this article.

To help support enhancing focus, the system has created a way to help control the flow of notifications. There is an option to configure your activity feed notifications, simply right-click on an item in your feed. A user can also mute notifications during meetings. Microsoft also helps users create ways to improve their focus time including auto-booking focus time on your calendar, getting email insights into your focus time, and tracking insights toward your focus goal.

Teams software has a feature to hide your video during virtual meetings and you can customize the chat settings. The blurred background or ability to customize your virtual background was actually created as a way to minimize visual distractions! There are also audio features that help eliminate background noise.

Reading and writing through the Microsoft platform has several features that are built-in as support features, AutoComplete for dropdown lists in Excel, suggested replies in Outlook, dictation features, and even searching documents with your voice in Word! You also have the ability to listen to your word documents. Also, Live Captioning is available on Teams.

Many of us use PowerPoint regularly and there are many features through PowerPoint to assist users. There is a new feature Accessibility Checker, which helps people that cannot see the screen understand what is being presented through Alternative Text with all the visuals. Accessibility Checker reviews the order of the slide deck, with a screen reader. The Slide contents can be set in the reading order that makes the most sense, also there are built-in slides for inclusive colors and fonts that are easier to see. The Accessibility Checker also reviews the contrast between text and background to make sure it is more readable. The slides also have the ability to provide a title for each slide or remove titles on all slides, depending on the use of screen readers.

PowerPoint suggests using larger 18pt + sans serif fonts and sufficient white spaces for views that are dyslexic. It has been echoed by the neurodivergent community that lacking white space can create an appearance of text merging or can be distorted. There are accessible font formats and color suggestions within PowerPoint to avoid this occurring. PowerPoint also allows the use of video, which can provide a subtitle transcript, closed captions, or video description.

If you’d like more information, or training on these features here is the Microsoft Support Link:

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