Sway accessibility milestones

The Microsoft mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more, and we on the Sway team take this mission to heart.

We built the Sway app to make it easy to bring in content from multiple sources, so you can convey a richer story with photos, videos and other multimedia. Our built-in design engine instantly puts your creations into cohesive layouts and designs, so you don’t have to spend hours on formatting. And our digital format makes it easy to share your Sway with a link and ensures that it adapts to different screens.

On top of these, we’ve been working on several features to help users with vision, mobility and cognitive impairments use Sway in their personal and work lives. All of the following enhancements are now available on the Sway web and Windows apps.

Accessibility Checker

We’re excited to launch the Accessibility Checker to help authors:

  • Identify images or videos with missing alternative text.
  • Review and update all alternative text.
  • Review and update all non-descriptive hyperlinks.

The Accessibility Checker opens up to the left of the Storyline area, so you won’t have to switch back and forth while composing your Sway and checking its accessibility.

This is a screenshot of the Accessibility Checker opened up to the left of the Storyline area of the Sway app. A purple dot is placed on the Accessibility Checker pane for illustration purposes. The Checker features the heading Review all alternative text. It is showing a photo, followed by the Alternative text box with the description, two purple succulent plants sit on a textured floor while a third sits in a white box. The bottom of the photo is set to 1 of 7, with arrows to scroll through the rest of the 6 photos, for easy access to the alternative text for the rest of the images in the Sway.

Sway will automatically use existing alt text when you import images from Word, PowerPoint, PDF and online sources. It will also use file names as alt text when you upload photos from your local drive.

Keyboard enhancements

Everything that you can do with a mouse or with touch, you can now do with a keyboard.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Use Ctrl+F6 to move among different areas in Sway, such as the menu bar, the left side pane, the Storyline area and the Preview mode.
  2. Click the tab or the arrow keys to move across a given area.
  3. Press Enter when you find the function you need.

The boxed outline in the example below helps you find your keyboard’s current focus:

A screenshot of the Group function is displayed, showing the 5 grouping styles available to Sway users today: Automatic, Stack, “Comparison, Slideshow and Grid. The keyboard focus is on Comparison so that the Comparison button is surrounded by a boxed outline within the product and highlighted by a purple dot for purposes of illustration.

You can refer to this handy list of keyboard shortcuts for Sway.

High Contrast mode

We also made a number of enhancements for users who work in High Contrast mode, including:

  • Icons are converted into glyphs to make symbols and text clearer.
  • Borders are bolded to help identify different sections in Sway.
  • Dotted outlines pinpoint your keyboard’s current focus.

Here is how Sway looks in the improved High Contrast mode:

A screenshot of Sway in High Contrast mode is showcased, with the background set to black, the main navigation menu in white, and the main borders in the body in yellow.

Accessibility View

We’ve reached out to several people to ensure that we keep improving the Sway Accessibility View for our users. Today, it enables a variety of helpful functions, including:

  • It enables assistive technology to access all of your Sway’s content and provide you with jump locations.
  • It changes your Sway’s color scheme to black and white to provide you with higher contrast.
  • It switches Sway to vertical scrolling to make it easier for you to navigate your Sway with assistive technology or with a keyboard.

We’d love to learn more about how we could further improve this view on our Sway UserVoice page.

Storyline expansion

Additionally, we’ve heard from users that you want to be able to see more of your content when creating a Sway. As such, we’ve enabled the ability to expand the Storyline area (and hide the Preview mode), so you can have a more focused and maximized authoring canvas:

A Sway is shown in the regular authoring mode, with the Cards pane to the left, followed by the Storyline area in the center and the Preview area to the right. A purple dot is placed on the arrow between Storyline and Preview for illustration purposes.

A Sway is shown in the expanded authoring mode, with the Cards pane to the left, and a maximized Storyline area taking over the rest of the app. The Preview area is hidden from view entirely for a more focused authoring experience.

Find

To help authors quickly move around and find things in Sway, we’ve added the ability to search for content in the Storyline area. Simply navigate to the search icon at the top of your Storyline, input your keywords and press Enter.

A Sway is shown with a search bar at the top of the Storyline. The letters Port are entered in the search bar, and these letters are highlighted in yellow in the word Portfolio in the Storyline.

Viewers can also access this feature by switching to Accessibility View and clicking Find.

A Sway is shown in viewing mode with a menu expanded out from the three-dot ellipses button on the top right of the Sway. The menu displays several functions, the sixth of which is the Find feature. A purple dot is placed on Find for illustration purposes.

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