Accessibility of M-S-Office 2016 for Mac

macOS & Mac Apps

Good day. how accessible is M-S-Office 2016 on the Mac? I don't have a copy and would rather not buy one to test. I'd also love to know what areas of office are not yet accessible. As an A.T specialist I recommend products and software and would love to be able to recommend office for mac since I get many questions about it's accessibility. Thanks.



Submitted by Andy B. on Friday, October 30, 2015


From my experience, Office 2016 is completely usable with a few minor issues. In Word, if you have inserted an image, and have quick nav turned off, the image is not visible to Voice Over. You have to turn on quick nav to see the image. Even then, you can't ensure text will get typed after the image by going to the end of the file. Otherwise, I have had no problems with Word. From my use of PowerPoint, everything is fine. The only annoyance is during presentations, Voice Over tells you that each element on the slide is a layout area. On the other hand, it is useful that it says layout area for each element on the presentation view because it will also tell you if your elements are overlapping. Excel is impressive. I was able to complete part of a forecasting course at my university with it. I also took some customer data in Excel, applied Extract Transform and Load (ETL) processes for database conversions to the workbook. This was completely done with Office 2016 for MAC. The only obvious spot Excel has problems is charts. Then again, the Windows version of Office has those problems as well. I don't know how many people use OneNote, but it is completely accessible. This is saying something for Microsoft because the OneNote app is unusable in Windows.

Submitted by Mustafa Dogus on Tuesday, November 3, 2015

2016 version is so accessible in comparison with 2011 version. But, there are some challenging issues. I generally use MS Word. I read documents easily. But,, when I go from a certain page to another page, VO cursor doesn't follow the insertion point. The Find and Change feature works in Word, but, when I go with this feature, that is when I go with the shortcut Option-Command-G and press Esc key; VO cursor isn't on the insertion point, or on the words I find. Again, when press the shortcut Option-Command-G and go a certain page, Vo cursor doesn't go to the page I want to go.
Another problem is that the tables in a Word document are not accessible. It is not possible to edit a table.
In sum, MS Word is just accessible to read, not to edit or to navigate in documents.


Submitted by Voracious P. Brain on Friday, December 11, 2015

Odd that Office 2016 doesn't seem to have an entry yet in the Mac app directory, but it's probably best that we're all holding off until the community has used it awhile. My experience with version 15.17 (Dec. 2015) is that Word remains unusable.
* even with a relatively short document of 5 pages, it reports the total number of pages incorrectly.
* Quicknav does indeed jump only among document header/footer elements page by page. No line, sentence, paragraph.
* needless to say,, heading styles are likewise not recognized by Voiceover, just as they are not recognized in Pages or Text-Edit.
* Unlike an earlier commenter, I was able to navigate tables appropriately, so it may have gotten fixed.
* Interacting with the text area is unreliable. It stops interacting whenever a dialog box is opened, such as print, and it stops interacting when you move to a new page unless you are in Draft view.
* navigating by word using option left/right arrows does not speak correctly. Using VO left and right does work, but see above on random interacting/non-interacting behaviors, since VO left and right is apt to move you into the header/footer area unpredictably.
* And then, when I interact again with the text area, the position is sometimes not where I was reading or writing. (I've been saying "you," but for all I know it's just my system somehow).
* book-length documents either don't load completely or else Voiceover can't access the entire document.
So, definitely not a program I can use yet because of these accessibility bugs.
However, here are some things that surprised me:
* Macros, including Visual Basic, and complete keyboard customizability, just as in the Windows version. Long before Jaws quick nav, I used to create simple macros to jump to the next/previous heading this way, and I still prefer it to going into and out of quick nav mode. The "goto" element dialog box is command option G, and Heading is one of the options there. You can go to Tools > Macro > Record New Macro and add heading navigability that way.
* Outline view is another way to navigate long documents that are structured. All through grad school, I scanned books into Word format and assigned headings to chapters and the like, before DAISY existed. So, long document navigability is a huge one for me.
* Pull-down Menus: although the ribbon is still here, there are also pull-down menus reminiscent of Word 2000 for many functions.
* Speech dictation - Yep.. All the OS X Splendor of speech dictation now in Word!
* Status bar is actually usable - Thanks to the way Macs make this sort of text accessible, word count, page count, and document location are now readable without the gymnastics required on Windows.
* Regarding the quick nav limitation, I'd note that option+ up/down moves by paragraph, and that's as good as you get with Windows, too, so no loss there but it would be awesome if the rotor COULD work. That might require too much cooperation between Apple and Microsoft, though, so who knows.
* A shortcoming of the ribbon implementation is that there doesn't seem to be a keyboard shortcut to move by "groups" of controls within a given ribbon tab, although I may just not have found it yet. But, the ribbon itself seems to be somewhat simplified and is easier to navigate than in 2013.
* On Windows, the cursor gets trapped inside the help edit box on the ribbon, at least on my system. No such problem on Mac.
* Mail merge and all the other esoteric features of Word absent in Apple Pages are present, for those of us needing them.

FWIW, Outlook 2016 seems fully accessible and in many ways may be a better experience than on Windows. However, I still prefer the separated Mac notes/calendar/contacts apps, since I never liked Outlook much. I do find myself preferring Outlook to the Mac Mail app, which was frustrating me lately when I tried to open attachments.
Haven't gone further into the suite than I just described, but will keep doing so. Some of the points noted above are pretty significant, and go a long way toward mittigating my initial dismissal of Word 2016 the first time I opened it. Big issue at present is the serious behavioral problem noted above.

Submitted by splyt on Friday, December 11, 2015

As an A.T. specialist you should know that it's possible to get a month of 365 free what would allow you to install and do your own testing.

Nothing is wrong in the act of asking for other's impressions but the only way one can recomend something is put theirselves on the recomendee's shoes and figure out if something would or would not be good for them.

So go ahead and install office to test it by yourself and share impressions and questions after you use it, specially if yiou're one AT consultant.

Look for office 365 on the internet.

Thank you, Voracious P. Brain... You've summarized the problems. I generally work with long documents due to my work. I hope these problems solve someday. I am frustrated to work on Windows. Also, I'm going to try the Macros you mentioned.


Submitted by Mr Spinneberg on Wednesday, December 16, 2015


I just got sick typing that word.

Submitted by Maria on Friday, December 2, 2016

HI. was wondering how the accessibility of ms office stands now? Thanks.

Submitted by Mustafa Dogus on Monday, December 5, 2016

It is a little better than earlier. There are still lots of navigating problems.