Part of any software rollout involves considering the needs of a diverse population of users. We are running a series of free webinars which introduce the challenges for users with accessibility needs who may use computers in different ways.
We’ll cover technology and techniques used, design decisions which affect the accessibility of documents and features available in Microsoft Windows, Office 365 and Internet Explorer which will help IT projects to be more inclusive from the outset.
Each webinar will last 20 minutes and there will be opportunities to ask questions.
Webinar 1 – Wednesday 28th November 2018, 2pm – Why is accessibility important?
Webinar 2 – Wednesday 5th December 2018, 2pm – Creating accessible content with Microsoft Office
Webinar 3 – Wednesday 12th December 2018, 2pm – Accessibility tools in the Microsoft platform for consuming content
Webinar 4 – Wednesday 19th December 2018, 2pm – How not to alienate users with accessibility needs in team collaboration
The Steps Recorder is a well-hidden tool available in Windows 7, Windows 8/8.1 and Windows 10. It allows you to record actions and then share the recording with others.
So why would you want to record actions? Well, have you ever had a colleague who is always asking you how to do things in Office? Instead of telling them, record the steps and send them the document. Or how about those occasional error messages that you need to report to your IT Team? Instead of explaining the issue, record the steps you took to get to the error.
Of course, steps recorder doesn’t just limit your recordings to Office. You can record actions on pretty much anything; how to log expenses or use the line-of-business time tracking tools or how to play sneaky at Fortnite. And the recorder tool is intelligent enough to black out sensitive fields such as passwords or digitally protected windows.
Open the Steps Recorder (if you do not know where the Steps Recorder is located, search for it from the Start screen)
Close any open windows other than Steps Recorder
NOTE: Steps Recorder will make screenshots of what’s on your computer screen and include those in the final recording. It is important that any unrelated open programs are closed first as this could be distracting.
Click the Start Record button
Complete the steps necessary as normal
You can tell when Steps Recorder is recording when the Start Record button changes to Pause Record and the title bar flashes ‘Recording Now’. The recording can be paused and resumed at any given time. During a recording you can also click the ‘Add Comment’ button to highlight a section of your screen and manually add a comment.
Once you have finished, click Stop Record
Click Save As
Give the recording a name and click Save
A single .zip file containing all of the information recorded will be created and saved to your Desktop unless another location was specified. This can now be shared in one of the following ways:
Attached the file to an email
Copying the file to a network share drive or flash drive
Attaching the file to a forum post
Uploading the file to a file sharing service and linking to it
It is worth noting that Steps Recorder is not available in operating systems prior to Windows 7.
Being able to synchronise a SharePoint document library to your pc in order to utilise it through Windows File Explorer is extremely useful. However the synchronisation will use up storage space on your local hard drive and having organisational documents stored locally will increase the risk of information compromise.
An effective way of rapidly accessing SharePoint document libraries and folders through File Explorer is to add them to the Quick Access section at the top left or the File Explorer windows, aka Favourites.
Step 1 – Navigate to the library through Internet Explorer
Browse to your SharePoint site and click on the document library.
Step 2 – Open the library in File Explorer
This is a great little step which opens the library as if it were a traditional mapped drive. On the right-hand side of your document library toolbar (New, Upload, Sync, etc.) you’ll see the All Documents view. Dropdown to see options and choose Open library in Windows File Explorer. This allows you to act on the files just as you would normally for operations such as bulk copy or move. The files are not synchronised locally so there is no offline access, storage or latency issues. You must be online to achieve this and also must be using Internet Explorer as Chrome, FireFox and even Edge don’t support the Open library in Windows File Explorer feature.
Step 3 – Pin the library to you Quick Access navigation
When the explorer window opens, right-click the Quick Access on the left hand side and choose Pin current folder to Quick Access. Or if it’s just a subfolder, right-click the specific folder you want and select Pin to Quick Access. You’ll now have a handy shortcut to your online document library within File Explorer.
This method assumes you are on a domain-joined machine with the same login as your Office 365 account, you have automatic login enabled and your SharePoint intranet is a trusted domain within Internet Explorer. Otherwise File Explorer won’t be able to authenticate and you’ll get an error window stating access denied. If this is a problem you aren’t able to resolve, then try one of the alternative methods below.
You can achieve a similar result in the Office applications. Copy the URL of your SharePoint library (removing everything from the /forms suffix onwards). Start your Office application, e.g. Word. Select File, Save As and paste the URL into the filename box (you may need to click Browse first). Hit enter and the app will open your document library. Now you can scroll up the folder tree on the left until you see Quick Access and right-click in the same way as step 1. This will propagate into other Office apps but not File Explorer and it’s useful if you regularly save into or open files from SharePoint libraries.
Finally, it’s also possible to pin the web page to your Windows taskbar in order to have quick navigation to the portal view of your library. Drag the webpage tab onto the taskbar until the icon changes to Pin. Then release the mouse button and you’ll have a persistent icon to that page.
3D Mapping in Excel (formerly Power Maps) is one of our favourite features and can make a huge impact on a dull spreadsheet of data. We were working with the Metropolitan Police recently during their upgrade from Windows XP and we created a customised Excel analysis demo on crime data.
UK crime data is publicly available and we envisaged mapping crimes across police forces. It turns out there’s quite a lot of crime in the country. So we limited the data to just the Met Police. Still a lot of crime. Then we filtered to just show bicycle thefts. Still a lot. So we limited the data to between January and November 2015. Still 13,500 recorded cycle thefts just within those eleven months. So the moral is don’t cycle in London.
Turn Dull Data into a Compelling Story
Imagine you are a crime prevention officer (or perhaps you already are in which case just imagine you have a different name). Your experience tells you a bike anti-theft campaign in Richmond will pay dividends in lowering the crime figures for the area. You want to take the data to a budget holder to ask for some cash for bike marking, lockable posts, etc. and you show them the following:
It doesn’t paint a compelling argument to obtain budget. And there are 13,500 of these rows too. Now luckily, you recently saw an awesome awareness session from someone at ImageFrame when they ran a Buzz Day at your office and you recalled Excel 3D maps.
3D maps allows you to create a graphical report (called a tour) with pages (called scenes) on which you can plot data with geographical information such as postcode, town, latitude/longitude. For example, in the first scene of our bike theft tour, we mapped the count of bike thefts grouped by London Borough. This gives us a good overview. Then we mapped the count again but using lat/lon for accuracy down to street level. This clearly shows us correlation we don’t see from the data alone; the high concentrations of bike thefts are from train stations (notice the highest brown column in the first picture in this post).
3D maps also allow us to overlay different data sets so we could show crime data overlaid onto demographic information.
If that wasn’t enough, we can include a timeline so the map ‘matures’ and plots the data gradually in relation to dates. This allows us to see which months are the hotspots for bike thefts.
We’ll blog about how to create a 3D map in the near future but for now you can download our sample data set here and the completed map report as a video here. Once you have the data set, open it in Excel, select the Insert tab and 3D map then Open 3D Maps. You’ll see our tour already created for you. In Office 2013, the ribbon tabs will refer to Power Map instead of 3D Map.
Have a play and if you do cycle in London, make sure you have a really good bike lock.
Office 365 utilises Azure Intelligent Services for a number of features including dictation, designer and smart lookup. One of the features we love is the automatic alt-text generation when you insert a picture into an Office document.
We are strong advocates that accessibility is not just important to users who need these features; everyone who creates content should be making it accessible.
A picture tells a thousand words but when a screen reader is parsing a document it will read out the alt-text for an image. If there’s no alt-text then you’ll just hear something along the lines of ‘picture’. Not very helpful. It’s been possible to manually enter the alt-text of course and this is very helpful in online content for search engine optimisation.
Intelligent services can automatically generate the alt-text for you based on the image contents. If you are dealing with sensitive images, this feature can be turned off in options as it does require information being sent to Microsoft.
Let’s insert an online image into a document to see how it performs.
For blatant blog-promotion SEO purposes I’m going to search for an online image of the royal wedding. Megan Markle Prince Harry Royal Wedding Windsor Castle. That should raise us at least one place in search results.
When I insert the fourth image, intelligent services analyses it and generates an alt-text tag for me. In this case, it’s accurate but not quite hitting the spot of wedding dress and it certainly doesn’t even try to achieve facial recognition; we know that’s a minefield. This result is far better than leaving alt-text empty though.
So you’ll get mixed results. Insert the third image and you’ll get an amusing result of “A picture containing dancer, indoor, sport, red” when clearly the image is all about the military and boys in culottes.
Now, we’ll try a business image and search for Donald Trump. I can feel our SEO going up.
The alt-text is accurate but again, no face recognition. Last example to see if there’s some Microsoft bias. I inserted the Microsoft logo.
No alt-text was generated but there’s a button in the image option alt-text panel which you can click to generate some. If you need to use this button, the image was typically not obvious enough for intelligent services to work out straight away so the confidence level will be lower.
Our result? A drawing of a face. Perhaps Bill Gates’ face is in the logo subliminally.
It’s common to have recurring meetings in our Outlook calendars. If the unexpected happens, such as snow or disruption on the trains (not so unexpected), it can be useful to change one of the meeting occurrences to a virtual meeting or a hybrid meeting where some staff are present in the same room and others can dial-in.
Outlook doesn’t provide the option of changing a single occurrence to a Skype for Business meeting however so here’s how to solve it.
If you double-click a meeting entry in calendar and select ‘Just this one’ to edit only this occurrence (below)
You will not be offered the Skype Meeting command on the ribbon (below). Note we have the Teams Meeting option because we have the Teams app installed alongside Skype for Business; you may not see Teams. We’ll be blogging about Teams and it’s relationship to Skype for Business at a later date. Note the ribbon tab showing we are editing the Appointment Occurrence.
If we had chosen to edit the entire series, we will see the Skype Meeting option in the ribbon. Note the ribbon tab showing we are editing the Appointment Series.
Outlook is being helpful here because if you edit a single meeting in a series, it will break the recurrence. In this instance, that’s exactly what we want to do though.
To overcome this, we can add the Skype Meeting command to the meeting Quick Access Toolbar (QAT) by right-clicking the command and selecting Add to Quick Access Toolbar.
The next time we edit a single instance of a meeting, we can click the Skype Meeting icon on the QAT to add-in the virtual meeting options.
When we save the updated meeting, our calendar shows we have broken the recurrence with the icon in the bottom right of the meeting block. But at least our colleagues stuck in some rain-soaked train station can still dial-in and take part in the meeting.
Using Tags in OneNote can be an effective way to fight against information overload. One of OneNote’s most powerful, yet underutilised features is tagging. Tags help you extract and organise data across notebooks. Every note or item marked with a particular tag will show up in the search results when you search for that tag. A summary can also be created to pull out and group all tagged items. This can be extremely useful when making a to-do list or focus on particular information.
To use tags:
Click on the Home ribbon
In the Tags group, click the drop-down arrow to see a list of the built-in tags
NOTE: Custom tags can also be created in this section
Use tags to organise your data. For example, you could mark important items with the ‘Important’ tag, To-do items with the ‘To Do’ tag or questions with the ‘Question’ tag and so on. Keyboard short-cuts can be used to tag items faster. You can apply more than one tag to an item.
Click the Find Tag button
By default, all tagged items will show grouped by tag name. You can also change the search options to include the current section, the current notebook or even all of your existing notebooks.
Click Create Summary Page
A new page will be created in your notebook that contains all of the tagged items organised in to groups. This is a great way of creating to-do lists and organising your data more efficiently.
Small and midsize businesses (SMBs) face a complex and changing landscape when it comes to understanding all of the different ways new technologies can help their businesses.
Many Microsoft partners are capitalising on the opportunity to grow their businesses by expanding their roles to that of a trusted advisor and business consultant — looking for ways to help SMBs modernise across the IT platform.
Microsoft is focused on helping you deliver solutions that address your customers’ key goals and business challenges. So you can use technology to help make them be more successful, whether by improving operational efficiency, protecting data, helping employees be more productive, or better connecting with customers. In fact, only Microsoft offers a complete platform with the flexibility to deliver the solutions your customer’s need, from server to cloud, desktop to mobile devices.
ModernBiz Technical Series
The ModernBiz Technical Series provides training, demonstrations and hands-on instruction on how to use the latest Microsoft technologies to deliver solutions to SMB organisations. This set of training courses is designed to prepare Microsoft value-added reseller (VAR) partners to help customers get the benefits of the modern business by providing solutions and services that span the entire IT ecosystem, from server, to cloud, to devices.
In this training, you will:
Get hands-on experience: With a focus on building real-world solutions, this training consists of presentations, demos, and hands-on labs.
Get the skills you need to build real-world SMB solutions: This technical series is designed specifically for partners working with SMB customers to build solutions using the latest products and technologies from Microsoft.
Any of the ModernBiz Technical Series courses can be attended as a standalone course or as a part of the complete series.
Who should participate: The ModernBiz Technical Series course is for Microsoft value-added reseller (VAR) partners who work with small and midsize organisations. The training is designed for those who are ready to learn more about meeting the technical needs of SMBs with Microsoft solutions.
Audience: IT Professionals, Consultants, SMB Resellers
Level: 200 (Technical) This training aligns to the Microsoft ModernBiz campaign for SMB partners.
There are free one or two day courses for each of these key technology areas.
These courses are designed to help you migrate customers off legacy infrastructure and get the most out of their technology. Example topics are Windows Server 2012 on-premises, Azure infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Windows 10, Office 365, and Azure.
Grow Efficiently Track 1 is designed to teach you how to migrate SMB customers off of legacy infrastructure to either Windows Server 2012 on-premises or Azure IaaS
Track 2 covers how to migrate SMB customers to Windows 10 and get started with Office 365
Track 3 teaches how to integrate on-premises infrastructure with Microsoft Azure
Safeguard Your Business
In this track, learn how to use the latest Microsoft technologies to deliver solutions that help SMBs protect company information and improve business continuity. Modules in this track include Azure Backup and ASR, Securing Windows 10, Data Loss Prevention in Office 365, eDiscovery and Archiving in Office 365, and Office 365 and Azure AD Premium RMS.
Connect with Customers
These training modules cover Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online as well as Office 365 collaborative services.
Track 1 is devoted to Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online, including Introduction to CRM Online, CRM Online Integration with Office 365, and CRM Online Integration with Power BI
Track 2 teaches how to implement Office 365 collaborative services and business intelligence to solve business problems. Example modules include Modern Collaboration, SQL Server 2014 Data Platform, Azure Relational Database Services, Creating and Exploring a Power BI Dashboard, and Reporting from On-premises Analysis Services with Power BI.
Here, you’ll learn how to enable SMBs to work from anywhere on any device. Topics include Windows 10 Management (with IE 11 and Edge); Mobile Device and Identity Management with Intune, EMS, and Office 365; Remote Desktop Service and Azure Remote App; Deploying Office 365 ProPlus; Skype for Business Conferencing; and Securing Windows 10.
Imageframe are pleased to be running many of these courses so come along and say hi!
In the Office 365 Exchange Admin Centre there are several default apps that can be turned on in Outlook by your administrator such as Action Items, Bing Maps, Suggested Meetingsor Unsubscribe. These apps can help to streamline your daily workflow and save you time.
All emails received into your inbox will be scanned. If Outlook notices anything that needs to be ‘actioned’ it will flag these items to you in the form of buttons above the reading pane.
In the following example, Outlook has picked up and flagged an address and an item that needs to be actioned.
Click on Bing Maps to see the exact location of the address.
Click on Action Items to see what items need to be actioned. In this example, Outlook has picked up that the sender has asked me to download a form from the files library. It has flagged this with a suggested action of adding it into my tasks lists for follow-up.
So next time you receive an email, take a glance at the bar above the reading pane for Bing Maps, Action Items, Suggested Meetings etc. These can be really helpful and time saving little apps!
How do good trainers run great training sessions that are inspiring for different types of attendee?
As far back as I can remember I have been made to feel somewhat guilty about my introverted personality. I was that child that preferred spending the summer holidays inside reading a book, drawing or making a fabulous princess palace out of old cardboard boxes and toilet rolls. Most of my friends would be outside on their bikes or up the hills playing games but for me, it was never as appealing. I think my parents found this somewhat unusual and I was always gently encouraged to go outside and play. Sometimes I did, but all the time longing to get back inside doing something creative on my own.
As an only child I grew up enjoying solitude and seeking out activities that I could do on my own or with one other trusted person. I always felt different to others. I didn’t really understand when I was younger why I didn’t enjoy being around lots of people or partaking in social activities. I felt weird. I felt that there was something wrong with me. If this rings true for you, then you are not weird, you are an introvert.
So what is the difference between an introvert and an extrovert? It relates to where you gain your energy. It was the famous Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung that popularised this definition. Extroverts feel energised and most alive being around people and feeding off others whereas introverts get their energy from within themselves. An introvert needs solitude like most people need oxygen.
As an introvert I can tell you that if I have to spend a number of hours in a social situation, particularly with people I do not know I feel totally drained at the end of the day. My batteries are flat. I find that people tend to drain the energy out of me and I usually cannot wait to get back home and recharge. Now that makes me sound completely anti-social and a bit of a people hater. I am not. I do enjoy the company of others but it does tire me out. And this is the problem that introverts encounter on a daily basis.
All of our institutions, be it schools or the workplace are setup to cater to extroverts. The gregarious qualities of an extrovert are prized more highly than the contemplative qualities of an introvert in today’s society. It’s easy to understand why this is but let’s look at a scenario.
Richard and Daisy are both going for a job interview. They both have excellent skills and qualifications on paper. Richard walks into the interview and confidently speaks about his achievements. He oozes charisma. He has fabulous anecdotes. He’s social, gregarious, a go-getter and real man of action! Daisy follows him. She has a quiet confidence, she pauses in deep thought before each answer. She has amazing, well thought out and creative ideas but seems shy and reserved. She indicates that she works best on solo projects as this is how her creativity flourishes. As an employer, who would you hire? I am guessing probably Richard. Why? He fits the mould of the modern office environment. However, sometimes the quiet people have the loudest minds.
Introverts make up 1/3 of the population and in general this personality type is misunderstood. Introverts are not shy. Introverts do not lack confidence. This is the most common misconception. Type Introverts into a Word document and hit Shift+F7 to see what I mean.
I am an introvert and I do a very extroverted job. I am a trainer, which means I stand in front of large groups of people and speak. If I lacked confidence or was shy, I would find it very difficult to do the job I do. That’s not to say that I do not find my job challenging. Being in the spotlight is not something that comes naturally to me. I’ve had to work at it. A lot of trainers I know are extroverts. They are comfortable running a training session with very little preparation and to a certain extent ‘winging it’. I’m not accusing them of running bad sessions or not caring as much, they are just more able to absorb the unexpected and run with it.
That’s not me. I plan, I research, I think about all the things that could go wrong in advance and try to counter them, I prepare, I practice, all so that my time ‘in the spotlight’ runs smoothly. It is this that enables me as an introvert to do an extroverts job. It’s my process that enables me to feel comfortable. It is very frustrating for an introvert when someone tries to change your process or doesn’t understand your need for meticulous planning.
This leads us into talking a little bit about training sessions and how, as a trainer, you can execute an interactive training session that is conducive for both introverts and extroverts.
Let’s briefly go back to talking about schools. Schools these days are setup in a way that caters to extroverts. Students sit on large round tables, facing each other and are encouraged to partake in countless group activities. The idea being to encourage interaction, learn how to work in a team and share ideas. I am not saying this is a bad thing. Young people do need to learn these skills. But what about the introverted child in that classroom? The child that is uncomfortable working in large groups. The child who prefers to reflect on a subject quietly before sharing his or her idea. The child that is often labelled as anti-social or difficult. Forcing introverts to work like extroverts is counter-productive and only serves to alienate that child from the group.
This is similar in an adult learning environment. Most trainers use a technique at the start of training sessions to ascertain the different learning styles and personality types of their students. It’s called an ‘Ice Breaker’ and usually involves some kind of activity or exercise. I use Ice Breakers to sort out the introverts from the extroverts. Many trainers I have met are very focused on the interactive element of training sessions. Group activities, high energy exercises, getting the students to voice their opinions, ask questions etc. I agree that these are important parts of training in order to keep participants engaged and interested. However, I would encourage all trainers to think about the introverted participants who are sitting there dreading the next group exercise or next question that puts them on the spot. Often, the fear of what is coming distracts them from their learning.
Susan Cain did an amazing Ted Talk on the ‘Power of introverts’ and I think this quote is very true. ‘Stop the madness for constant group work!!’ Think about alternative methods that will allow extroverts and introverts to flourish equally. Instead of large, boisterous group activities, pepper your sessions with solo exercises or brain training activities. Instead of large group work, stick to partner work. If you need to do an exercise in a large group, make it a more relaxed ‘Café style’ workshop where you start a discussion with the group during a coffee break. This is immediately more relaxed and informal. Students can participate as much or as little as they like with no pressure. Try not to fire questions at a student that appears to be quiet and not interacting as much. They are probably listening intently and processing.
Introverts hold so much power that is overlooked. They tend to be more effective than their extroverted counterparts, statistically more intelligent and oddly better leaders as they don’t dominate others and are more inclined to let individual ideas flourish. Introverts are creative. They are imaginative. They are deep thinkers. They are invaluable to this world. Where would we be without the likes of Einstein, Ghandi, Abraham Lincoln, Rosa Parkes or Bill Gates? All introverts who changed the world.
Employers are slowly starting to understand this concept. Our workplaces are changing and becoming more flexible. Employers are introducing different ways of working and home working is on the rise. There is a mini revolution going on at the moment confirmed by the amount of blogs and articles popping up all over the web on this subject. Let’s embrace everyone, introverts, extroverts and all those that are in between and recognise the supreme benefit of letting individuals work within their natural personality type.
And whatever personality type you are, you’re more than welcome on our courses.