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  1. Qoppa Software, a leading PDF software company, announces version 2021 of PDF Studio, their powerful, intuitive PDF Editor for Windows, macOS and Linux. The latest version is packed with enhancements that will aid users in the efficiency of their daily workflow when creating new documents or enhancing the content of their existing documents. It includes new accessibility options to assist users with impairments and refines its existing tools to make them more functional and customizable. Here are some of the new exciting features included in this version: Accessibility Color Options Text to Speech (Read Out Loud) Enhanced User Interface Improved Content Editing New Content Explorer Upgraded OCR Engine Version New Options to “Unflatten” Annotations Additional Preflight Functions DocTimeStamp Signatures Support Real Full Screen Mode Search Recent Files Auto Detect Links PDF Studio 2021 provides new accessibility color options when rendering documents to help accommodate users who are visually impaired or working in dimly lit environments and give them an easier reading experience. Text and background colors can be adjusted to one of the default higher contrast color schemes provided, or can be fully customized by the user. Another accessibility feature that has been added is Read Out Loud, a Text-to-Speech (TTS) tool that is able to read the document text aloud and assist users with reading impairments. This tool can be activated through the ribbon toolbar or a keyboard shortcut (Ctrl + Shift + V). Content editing has been improved to automatically recognize and highlight the different paragraphs, columns, and sections present on the page, allowing users to immediately identify the different text area sections. The text reflow has been refined for consistency and reliability. A new content explorer panel was added to assist with content editing. It allows users to view the overall structure of a document by displaying all content objects contained in the document in a hierarchical tree format. This permit users to easily identify and select content objects present on a page, including text, images, paths, shades and containers objects. The flatten annotations feature has been enhanced to offer an option to allow “unflattening annotations” subsequently and reverse the flattening action, so users are able to continue making edits and revisions. Flattening annotations is used by professionals such as architects to consolidate review annotations within the content of their documents before sharing them with their clients. This process guarantees consistent reading of a document across operating systems and alternative PDF applications being used. Additional preflight functions were included in PDF Studio 2021. These functions are PDF/A 2u & PDF/ A 3u validation & conversion. These sub-formats are used for scientific articles or journals to validate documents containing Unicode text and mathematical calculations. PDF Studio 2021 version comes with an upgraded OCR Engine which performs better when recognizing text within slanted or low resolution scanned images. It also contains many refinements to the user interface, the annotations tools and reading experience. The new “real” full screen mode is perfect for focused reading or presenting. Automatic link detection within the text content makes it simple for users to navigate to external sources and materials. There are many more improvements included in PDF Studio 2021. See the full list of PDF Studio 2021 features. Overall, PDF Studio Version 2021 enhances user experience with new accessibility features and give users more control when manipulating and enhancing their documents. As usual, all new features are available on all platforms, Windows, macOS and Linux! Download PDF Studio 2021 Now! About Qoppa Software: Qoppa Software produces cross-platform PDF software for end-users, developers and integrators. Our PDF tools and libraries cover every aspect of PDF processes and help automate document workflows. Qoppa Software was founded in 2002 and is located in Atlanta, GA.
  2. Microsoft explains the Accessibility improvements coming in Windows 11 Microsoft today explained the Accessibility improvements coming in Windows 11. You can try out these new improvements in the Windows 11 Preview Build 22000.51 which was released early this week to Windows Insiders. You can find the summary of the accessibility improvements below. People who are blind, and everyone, can enjoy new sound schemes. Windows 11 includes delightful Windows start-up and other sounds, including different sounds for more accessible Light and Dark Themes. People with light sensitivity and people working for extended periods of time can enjoy beautiful color themes, including new Dark themes and reimagined High Contrast Themes. The new Contrast Themes include aesthetically pleasing, customizable color combinations that make apps and content easier to see. Deaf and hard of hearing, language learners, and people in noisy or in quiet environments can enjoy redesigned Closed Caption themes that are easier to read and customize. People with severe arthritis, repetitive stress injuries, cerebral palsy and other mobility related disabilities, learning differences including with severe spelling disabilities, language learners and people that prefer to write with their voice can all enjoy Windows 11’s new Voice Typing feature. Microsoft rebranded Ease of Access Settings to Accessibility and introduced a new accessibility “human” icon. Microsoft also redesigned the Accessibility Settings to make them easier to use. And of course, Accessibility features are available in the out of box experience and on the Log on and Lock screens so that users can independently setup and use their devices, e.g., with Narrator. With Windows 11, Microsoft made it possible for both Microsoft and partner assistive technologies to work with applications like Outlook hosted in the cloud, in Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD). For example, with Windows 11, Office is accessible as a Remote Application Integrated Locally (RAIL) using Narrator. While that may sound like a lot of jargon to most people, the impact is significant. People who are blind will have access to applications like Office hosted in Azure when they need it. Source: Microsoft Microsoft explains the Accessibility improvements coming in Windows 11
  3. HBO Max improves accessibility with new audio descriptions WarnerMedia made a settlement in October of last year where it vowed to improve the accessibility of its video streaming platform, HBO Max, for the visually impaired customers. Now, the company is making good on that promise. The American Council of the Blind, one of the advocacy organizations that signed the agreement with WarnerMedia, announced today that HBO Max is rolling out audio descriptions for some of its titles like HBO originals, Max Originals, and Warner Bros films. Some titles that will include audio descriptions are His Dark Materials, Genera+ion, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Dunkirk, Euphoria, Love Life, and Sesame Street. These audio descriptions are going live on the web and mobile versions of the streaming platform starting this week. The feature will be available on eligible internet-connected TVs later this year. Audio descriptions work as separate audio tracks that verbally describe what’s taking place on the screen. These tracks currently span nearly 1,500 hours in total duration, although audio descriptions for HBO and Max Original shows are expected to reach a total of 3,000 hours by the end of March 2022 and 6,000 hours by March 2023. HBO Max will also gather all of the shows and movies with audio descriptions in a new category under its navigation menu. In addition, the service will improve the way people with visual difficulties gain access to HBO Max's website and mobile apps over the next few months. It's also adding articles to the platform's help page, where customers will find various instructions to perform certain tasks that are otherwise difficult to do. Finally, WarnerMedia will train its customer support specialists in order to improve how they provide assistance to customers with disabilities. Source: HBO Max improves accessibility with new audio descriptions
  4. Microsoft starts new program to help make more accessible games Players with disabilities will test games and give feedback Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge Microsoft is expanding its accessibility efforts with a new program for evaluating Xbox and PC games. Today, its gaming accessibility team announced that developers can send their games to be evaluated for accessibility and tested by players with disabilities. The program was announced alongside updates to the Xbox Accessibility Guidelines that were released in early 2020. “Developers now have the option to send Microsoft their Xbox or PC title and have it analyzed and validated against the recommendations provided in the XAGs,” says an Xbox blog post published today. The Xbox Accessibility Guidelines include thorough explanations of inclusive design considerations for developers, and they are now updated to include clearer language, additional context, and implementation examples. Game test reports will include feedback from players with disabilities, as well as links to information on inclusive design, relevant nonprofits, and accessibility experts. Any issues found during testing will be “noted with reproduction steps, screenshots, and other information to help the developer understand what aspect of a given experience may be challenging for certain gamers with disabilities,” says the post. More companies have been focusing on game accessibility in recent years — including Microsoft with the Xbox Adaptive Controller — but there are still few high-profile examples besides The Last of Us Part II. A program like this could potentially lead to more games with a similarly wide variety of accessibility options. It’s also significant for players with disabilities to be able to provide insight, rather than being left unconsidered or designed for without their input. Source: Microsoft starts new program to help make more accessible games
  5. Windows 10 gets accessibility improvements to cursor, screen reader, and more Microsoft is making Windows 10 easier for everyone to use Microsoft is making some improvements to its Windows 10 accessibility features, specifically centered around making the text cursor easier to see and follow using the built-in Magnifier feature. There’s also new text-to-speech functionality being integrated into the Magnifier tool, as well as improvements to Narrator (the built-in Windows screen reader), all set to roll out in the May 2020 Update. Microsoft had previously offered tools to adjust the size and color of the standard mouse cursor. Now it’s bringing similar options to the text cursor, allowing users with impaired vision to adjust the size, thickness, and color of the text cursor, along with adding a new, larger indication to easily find it on-screen. Similarly, the Magnifier feature will follow the text cursor in the middle of the display, just like it does with the regular mouse cursor. Magnifier is also getting a new text-to-speech feature that will read out text in browsers or applications (Edge, Chrome, Firefox, Word, Outlook, and Powerpoint are all called out by name). To that end, there are new media control buttons in the Magnifier app, allowing users to easily control playback. Lastly, Microsoft has made improvements to Narrator, its screen reading tool that makes it possible to use Windows without being able to see the screen. Microsoft is adding options to hear sounds instead of full phrases for toggling actions, and it’s adding better support for announcing capital letters and words. Narrator also offers a better experience when web browsing, adding support for Firefox, an option to automatically start reading webpages, and a feature that gives a summary of the entire page. Source: Windows 10 gets accessibility improvements to cursor, screen reader, and more (The Verge)
  6. New Windows 10 20H1 Accessibility feature may end up being used by everyone There are times when we all need a little bit of help, and a new accessibility feature in Windows 10 20H1 may end up being used by many more than the target audience. Windows 10 includes a magnifier feature (activate with the Windows logo key? + Plus sign (+) ) designed for those with low vision. A new feature in Windows 10 20H1 build 18947 will use Windows Narrator to start reading from the mouse pointer click. The feature currently only works on the old Edge, but will hopefully become more universal in time. In the meantime, it should offer a quick and easy way to have web pages read to you with a better level of control than the narrator offered in the past. Source: New Windows 10 20H1 Accessibility feature may end up being used by everyone (MSPoweruser)
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