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Lync High Contrast / Accessibility Support


Recently one of the guys on twitter (Simon Leyland) asked about Lync/OCS support for partially sighted users. Previously working for a Cisco partner this was something that came up more than once, I knew there was some support in Lync but thought it would be good to take a closer look.

Microsoft produce a Voluntary Product Accessibility Template or VPAT to document their compliance with American Federal accessibility standards. Here is a Link to the Microsoft VPATS and specifically there are a number of Lync VPAT’s

 Microsoft Lync 2010 Attendee VPAT

 Microsoft Lync 2010 Phone Edition VPAT

 Microsoft Lync 2010 VPAT

 Microsoft Lync Attendant 2010 VPAT

 Microsoft Lync Group Chat 2010 VPAT

 Microsoft Lync Server 2010 VPAT

 Microsoft Lync Web App VPAT

The documents go through the finer details of support for keyboard, High DPI, High Contrast, TTY, MSAA Screen Readers, Here are some of the notes on support for the main Lync Client:

CriteriaSupporting FeatureRemarks and Explanation
(a) At least one mode of operation and information retrieval that does not require user vision shall be provided, or support for Assistive Technology used by people who are blind or visually impaired shall be provided.Supported with ExceptionsLync 2010 supports the use of screen readers that use MSAA or the object model to access user interface information.
Several exceptions are outlined below:
– When reading out the status information, the graphic is also read out to the user
– Location Menu is not read back to user and location fields that are not editible are not indicated as such to the user
– In the main user interface of Lync, ‘Add to this contact group’, nothing is announced for either the check box or the title
– There is no text read out for the ‘Groups’, ‘Privacy Relationship’ combination boxes
– In the Privacy Relationship list off the main UI, each access level is not announced to the user
– Once you are added to a contact list, no announcement of who added you to their contact list is presented to the user
– In the Contact card, several textboxes (such as Mobile Number, Home Number) are not called out as not being editable
– Some sections of the Join Meeting dialog are not read to the user
– A credential prompt for the exchange web services dialog, If it shows up around the same time as meeting audio options, precludes the user from joining audio options. Hitting Esc on the EWS prompt takes user back to the main UI
– In the location Field on the main UI, hot keys to use activate certain options (S for Set Location, R for Remove all
(g) Applications shall not override user selected contrast and color selections and other individual display attributes.Supported with Minor ExceptionsLync 2010 supports contrast selection in the following modes: Black
High Contrast Mode 1
High Contrast Mode 2
The following known exceptions apply:
– PowerPoint content does not follow the high contrast theme. Lync 2010 has a dependency on the PowerPoint Animation Engine to make high contrast completely accessible in this space. The workaround is to share the actual PowerPoint file with all participants.
– Presence icons cannot be seen in the systray menu in high contrast mode
– Install Wizard text on first and final screen is in white when display is set to High Contrast
– Presence icons are missing in high Contrast mode in the area at the top of the Main UI where users name and presence are shown
– In high contrast mode, description for ‘Change Privacy relationship’ information on a contact is not visible
(a) Telecommunications products or systems which provide a function allowing voice communication and which do not themselves provide a TTY functionality shall provide a standard non-acoustic connection point for TTYs. Microphones shall be capable of being turned on and off to allow the user to intermix speech with TTY use.Supported with ExceptionsTTY option can be set on the Lync Options UI. A hearing impaired user can then attach a TTY device to interpret the incoming media. The far end will have to send TTY messages to the user. The user is given indication of an incoming call through the visual toast on systray (on the Lync icon)– but cannot discern if it is a TTY call coming in. The user can use IM (clicking on the notification) to answer the incoming call from another Lync end point

I’m no expert in this area, but it does sound like they have the major aspects covered.

Nothing special to do to get the High Contrast modes, just set your them in Windows and Lync will follow. Here are a few screenshots





Lync phone edition (IP Handsets) also have a high contrast mode), but I don’t have one handy to take and screenshots right now. Let me know if you want to see some.

About the author

Tom Arbuthnot

A Microsoft MVP and Microsoft Certified Master, Tom Arbuthnot is Principal Solutions Architect at Microsoft Collaboration specialists Modality Systems.

Tom stays up to date with industry developments and shares news and his opinions on his blog, Microsoft Teams Podcast and email list. He is a regular speaker at events around the world.

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Tom Talks Microsoft Teams and Microsoft 365 Collaboration news and opinions