Although I podcast a lot about Apple products, (Easy Access), there are many other devices and computers that I use day-to-day. When at work, it’s mostly Microsoft Office products. To be honest, I’ve gotten used to these tools and have finally decided to delve into a home solution for such things.
In the past, choosing an Office product meant having to make sure that you had the latest and greatest screen reader. To ensure compatibility, you also had to purchase an Office product a year behind everyone else’s, as it took a fair bit of time for screen readers to catch up. Due to aged-old competition, general outcry from blind and visually impaired users and better communication between the screen reader developers and Microsoft, we are now at a point in time where I can easily purchase the latest version of Office and be as productive as anyone else. Heck, I’m actually writing this blog entry within my own copy of Office. It’s pretty nifty.
What is Office 365?
Simply put, Office 365 is a subscription-based copy of Microsoft Office. For some odd reason, I thought everything would be done in the cloud. You can do that, but you can also download a fully functional copy of Office onto your system. The only difference is you pay either a monthly or yearly fee in order to use the software. This is done in 5 easy steps:
- Go to your country’s Microsoft online store,
- Sign into the store and do a search for Office 365,
- Choose the version that you want and proceed to check out,
- Pay by visa and/or PayPal and then download the software.
- Let the setup run its course and you’re pretty much done.
In my case, I bought the personal edition for a year. At under $100.00, I get a slew of Office products plus 1 terabyte of OneDrive space. Now here’s an added bonus for screen reader users. Since you now have a Microsoft Office product on your system, you can install Window-Eyes at no cost. Go to the Window-eyes For Office website. If that’s not your cup of tea, you can also access an open source screen reader called NVDA. This stands for non-visual Desktop Access. You can find NVDA here.
All in all, I’m quite happy with this arrangement. I’ve got a great productivity platform, plus an extra screen reader I can tinker with and I am eligible to all Office updates over the subscription duration. The only possible beef I have is the accessibility level within the iDevice Office app. It’s almost non-existent and I don’t even consider it as a viable option. I haven’t spent enough time with the online Office apps to make an educated opinion as of yet. For more information on Office 365, go here.