Office used to be mainly targeted towards business, but availability of these apps and platforms as a subscription service – or in some cases for free – means that more home and individual users are taking advantage of them, too.
An additional benefit of having so many internet-enabled self-updating or in-browser app services is that they can be more easily updated with new features, or their existing features can be expanded to suit different uses and audiences – and they can be connected together, too.
One such expanded feature is Immersive Reader, which began in Word and is now available as a feature in a few Microsoft apps.
Inside the Immersive Reader, you can check the dictionary definition of a word without opening any other window, or you can translate the text into different languages. This will help not only learners and vocabulary-building, but also those who are reading a document written in a different language than they are used to, or are unsure of a particular word. This feature also has potential for those using immersive reader to study at any level, as it can provide information on a term in context, without leaving the app.
While at first this may seem like a feature aimed to children, it can be incredibly useful for many others, too. Adult learners, people with visual impairments, or even just those who are too busy to be able to sit down and read a long document – for example, it could be used to listen to a relevant document while travelling to a meeting.
For those who are writing, it can also be used to proofread documents, allowing the user to pick up on spelling or grammatical errors that they may not have noticed – which can be especially useful if there’s no-one available to read over the work with a human eye.
Read Aloud is also one of the functions available in Edge, allowing users greater accessibility.
One of the biggest, and most potentially useful apps with Immersive Reader integrated is Office Lens, a document scanner application with many useful features, available for Android and iOS.
Office lens allows you to capture documents, text, whiteboards, signs, notes, or anything else, and store them as PDF files in cloud storage or on your device. It can also be used to capture images and diagrams without text, but for Immersive Reader purposes, these features are not as relevant.
When you tell Office Lens what kind of document you’re capturing, it can scan the document and convert the printed or written text into typed text which you can then use in immersive reader – with all the immersive reader features such as translation, dictionary, read aloud and more.
Being able to scan and replay documents or notes out loud can be a game changer for some people, particularly those who learn better when listening to information rather than reading it.
Immersive Reader and its associated apps show how we can move towards a more accessible and inclusive experience – which can in turn benefit everyone.