Confirmation of action in Word for Windows

By Office Feature PM on June 5, 2020

Hi, I’m Ali Forelli, a Program Manager on the Word team working on Accessibility. I’m pleased to announce that Word now sends confirmation of action to Narrator users about whether their attempted keyboard commands succeeded, as well as alert them to editing corrections that have automatically been applied after typing.

Defining confirmation of action

Do you ever copy text and try to paste it into your Word document, only to have the wrong image show up or worse, nothing at all? Have you tried removing bold formatting from a word, only to accidentally apply bold formatting to the whole paragraph? Formatting can be a confusing experience for sighted users. Now imagine trying to navigate these scenarios when you can’t see the screen.

Confirmation of action enables users to know whether the action they attempted was performed successfully. This capability has been long requested by customers but hasn’t been available in the Office apps. The existing method to expose such notifications didn’t give screen readers control over the verbosity of the announcement. Therefore, it risked being too noisy for assistive technology (AT) users. In April 2018, Windows added a new API that allowed apps to trigger notifications, and group them by notification ID. This allowed screen readers, like Narrator, to apply logic to these announcements and share them as needed.

We have added confirmation of action for the following keyboard shortcuts and auto-corrections:

  • Cut (CTRL + X)
  • Copy (CTRL + C)
  • Paste (CTRL + V)
  • Bold (CTRL + B)
  • Italic (CTRL + I)
  • Underline (CTRL + U)
  • Undo (CTRL + Z)
  • Redo (CTRL + Y)
  • Auto capitalization
  • Auto correction of spelling

confirmation of action feature screenshot

 

 

 

 

 

We targeted keyboard shortcuts for this work, since they are widely used by screen reader users to access commands, and the buttons in the ribbon are already labeled.

Note: Confirmation of action notifications will not be available if commands listed above are initiated from the menus (rather than using keyboard shortcuts).

How it works – keyboard shortcuts

Turn on Narrator by pressing the Windows key + CTRL + ENTER. While editing your Word document, if you perform one of the keyboard shortcuts listed above, you’ll be notified when the action has been successfully completed. For example, when you highlight text and press CTRL+B, you’ll hear “B bold on” or “B bold off” depending on whether you’re applying or removing bold formatting. Before this change, users would only hear “B,” even if the bold formatting was being correctly applied.

Now let’s take a look at a problematic command combination: copy and paste. For a successful paste, you’ll press CTRL+V and hear “V [last word pasted] paste.” But sometimes paste doesn’t work as expected. With confirmation of action, whether you forgot to copy content or the website or app you’re copying from failed to add the content to the Clipboard, you will only hear “V” when you press CTRL + V, and no successful paste announcement.

How it works – auto-corrections

We’ve also added support to alert users about auto-corrections that are applied to text after they have finished typing a word. For example, if you start a sentence without a capitalized first character, once you type a space character (finishing the word), the first letter will be auto-capitalized. With Narrator running, you’ll hear “auto-corrected [word]” to alert you that your previously typed word has been corrected.

Promoting clarity through technology

The Word team is proud to have partnered with the Windows Platform team to utilize their new technology to make our users’ lives easier. I’m looking forward to what future innovations are in store!

Availability

This feature is available in Word for Windows for both Beta and Current Channel (Preview) users on Version 2002 (Build 16.0. 12527.20092) or later.

Feedback

If you are a screen reader user, or a sighted user looking to get more experience with Accessibility features in Word, please try our new confirmation of action features. Let us know how they work for you! Are there any other scenarios for which confirmation of action would be useful? We want to hear about that too!

If you have any feedback or suggestions, you can submit them using the Help Improve Office (😊) button in the top right corner of the Word app window. We’re excited to hear from you! For accessibility specific support, visit the Microsoft Disability Answer Desk to learn more.

Learn more about what other information you should include in your feedback to ensure it’s actionable and reaches the right people. We’re excited to hear from you! With the Office Insider newsletter, you can get the latest information about Insider features in your inbox once a month. Sign up here.

Posted in Feature Deep Dives, Windows Desktop, Word

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