I was reading Kathleen’s recent blog entry about Office and Windows and accessibility. Kathleen was referring to the cases where you don’t have a mouse, only keyboard, and the fact that CTRL+I wasn’t discoverable in that scenario. I have mixed feeling about the Office 2007 UI: I actually think it is a step in the right direction *visually*, but lacking a lot of features especially customization.  But as far as accessibility for the visually impaired goes it is terrible.

Please take the time to try this at home :


  1. Put on a set of dark glasses and turn your monitor to dim as possible, or if you are really game, make it so as you can’t see the monitor at all.

  2. Turn on Microsoft Narrator from Windows Ease Of Access tools

  3. Try using a simple app like Notepad.  It takes some getting use to, but you will get clear information about the application bar, how many menu items, etc.

  4. Now try using Word.  Try using the ribbon.


At this point you should now be saying like “oh my god ..” or “those bastards …” or something in that vein.  Please do take the few minutes it takes to try this.

One positive takeaway, I need to be always testing this for my apps.

Oh, and I should point out that discovering keyboard shortcuts for the visually impaired is virtually impossible even with the old style menus 🙁