Accessibility was an important consideration we put our efforts into during Lync 2010 development. In addition to helping our customers with disabilities, these improvements also bring about broad usability enhancements in the product.
We have made improvements in almost all accessibility areas (keyboard navigation, high dpi, high contrast, shortcut keys, global hotkeys, focus indication etc.). Additionally, we have made sure the initial level of accessibility for all the new scenarios introduced in Lync 2010 are higher compared to past releases (collaboration features for e.g.)
With this blog we attempt to compile some of the accessibility improvements in Lync from previous versions in addition to few accessibility tips from previous versions that are not widely known. Please provide any feedback you may have on accessibility by leaving comments to the post.


Screen reader support
We used JAWS screen reader for our testing purposes.

1. Incoming IM messages in Lync are read out by screen readers. This is an improvement from previous versions of Lync.

2. Like its predecessors incoming invite toast in Lync is read out by screen readers. Additionally, keyboard hotkey to accept the toast (Windows key+A) is also read out. 

Figure 1: Toast Invite

3. All incoming instant messages, invitation toasts and notifications are accompanied by audio cues (consistent with previous versions)

4. Notifications are read out as soon as they appear. This is new to Lync 2010. Additionally, the shortcut key to accept or decline the notification is read out (Alt+C to accept and Alt+D to decline). The yellow bar below is a notification for example to accept/decline a sharing invite.

Figure 2: Sharing Notification

5. When you start sharing your screen or an application using Lync you will see a notification letting you know that your screen is being shared. If using screen reader, you will also hear the hotkey (Ctrl+Shift+Space) you can use to access the sharing toolbar on top. (Audio Sample)


Figure 3: Screen Sharing - notification and toolbar

High DPI
Lync supports normal (100%) dpi and high dpi (125%, 150%). If you prefer your screen to appear in a larger font, change your system dpi to a higher setting. Lync will honor those settings. Make sure that windows xp style dpi scaling is turned on.

Figure 4: Changing DPI

Figure 5: Lync main window in 125% dpi

High Contrast
Lync supports the windows high contrast themes. We currently do not support custom themes.

Figure 6: Changing to a windows high contrast theme


Figure 7: Lync main window in high contrast theme

1. Control whether Lync appears in the foreground or not when started 

Figure 8: Lync options dialog

2. Use Windows key+Q hotkey to access the Lync main window anytime. I find this very useful, especially when working on a different application and I need to quickly search for somebody in my Lync buddy list. I use Win+Q followed by Ctrl+1.

3. If you use the file menu bar often you may want to set it to show always using the options button.
a. To do this for the main window, use the options menu button

Figure 9: Main window file menu bar

b. To accomplish the same for conversation window, use the 'More Options' button as shown below 

Figure 10: Conversation window file menu bar

4. Use Alt key or F10 to access the menu bar. In the past F10 didn’t map to file menu bar, but now F10 is consistent with Word, Outlook and other apps.

5. To quickly access your voicemail navigate to the Phone Environment (Ctrl+4).

Figure 11: Phone environment in main window

6. To access your missed conversations, navigate to the conversation list tab (Ctrl+3). This enlists all your conversations - ongoing and past.

Figure 12: Conversations environment in main window

7. Right click on a contact in your buddy list to perform an operation such as call, IM, share desktop, add contact, send email etc.

8. If using a screen reader, turn on "Accessibility Description" field (most screen readers have this off by default) when using Lync 2010 for the first few times. This will make it easier to ramp up on the new UI features. Some of the buttons like the font picker and emoticon picker for example have detailed descriptions explaining their functionality which is not read out by many screen readers in their default mode.

9. If you are in an online meeting that you joined via Lync, use the meeting information dialog to access meeting join information like dial in number and passcode. I use it when switching audio from my desktop to phone

Figure 13: Meeting Information dialog

10. Schedule online meetings via outlook.

11. Or try adhoc meetings using Lync. These are fast and light-weight. Use Alt+M if menu bar is visible.

Figure 14: Ad-hoc Meeting launch

12. Use the contact card (Alt+Enter on a contact) to view contact details 

Figure 15: Contact Details Card

Other Relevant Links

Frequently used shortcuts

We are always listening for feedback to make our accessibility story better. Our goal is to empower users with accessibility needs to have as rich an experience as any other user.

-Pooja Malpani, Software Design Engineer
-Purvi Vaidya, Software Design Engineer in Test
-Anil Elson, Software Design Engineer
Published Wednesday, October 06, 2010 2:48 PM by octeam
Filed Under: Accessibility