About accessibility for people with disabilities

Microsoft is committed to making products that are accessible (accessibility: The quality of a given system of hardware or software that makes it usable by people with one or more physical disabilities, such as restricted mobility, blindness, or deafness.) and usable by all people, including those with disabilities.

ShowSystem accessibility options

If you own a Microsoft Windows-based computer, you can set or change system accessibility options. Many of these options affect the way you work in Microsoft Office programs. For example, the Windows StickyKeys feature is designed for people who have difficulty holding down two or more keys at a time. When a shortcut in an Office program requires a key combination, such as CTRL+P, StickyKeys will enable you to press one key at a time instead of pressing them simultaneously.

Many accessibility features are built right into Microsoft Outlook. These features are available to everyone, without the need for additional accessibility aids (accessibility aids: Utilities that make computers easier to use for people with disabilities. Examples of accessibility aids include screen readers, speech recognition programs, and on-screen keyboards.).

ShowKeyboard shortcuts

Many features and commands are available directly from the keyboard. If a command you want doesn't have a shortcut key, you can assign one to it. For example, you can create a shortcut key that adds colors of your choice to appointments on your Calendar.

ShowCustomization options

You can customize Outlook to better suit your needs.

  • Size options     You can increase the size of text in items that you create or read, as well as in lists of items, called views. You can change the font and style of text in items that you create or receive to make them easier to read, including changing the message format of items that you receive to plain text. If you use the Windows high contrast setting, e-mail you compose and receive in Rich Text format will now be shown in draft font. If you have Microsoft Internet Explorer installed on your computer, you can gain more control over the display of messages that use HTML as their format by setting font and color options and applying custom style sheets in the Accessibility dialog box in Internet Explorer (Tools menu, Internet Options command). And, you can make toolbar (toolbar: A bar with buttons and options that you use to carry out commands. To display a toolbar, press ALT and then SHIFT+F10.) buttons and list boxes larger so that they're easier to see and use.
  • Color and sound options     Besides changing the color of text, you can change the background color of your Calendar and of notes to make them easier to read.You can now carry out most commands by speaking. In addition to turning on sound for notification of e-mail delivery, for reminders, and for the Office Assistant, you can also opt to have feedback about buttons and menu commands accompanied by sound, and choose a different sound for each type of feedback.
  • Toolbar and menu options     You can assign your own keyboard accelerator keys, or change existing ones. You can customize toolbars and menu commands — for example, you might create a toolbar that contains only the buttons and menus you use most often, or group toolbar buttons and menu commands together in a way that meets your personal preference. You can even create a custom toolbar button or menu command. And you can customize shortcut menus.

ShowTips for working more efficiently

Outlook includes features that can help you automate repetitive tasks or work more effectively. For example, you can create a toolbar button that will automatically address mail to a person or group of people and complete the subject line.

  • When you start typing an e-mail address in the To, Cc, or Bcc boxes of a message, Outlook offers a list of names that match what you've typed so far. You can click an address in the list instead of continuing to type. This feature works for any address you have previously sent a message to.
  • You can create AutoText entries to speed up writing e-mail messages. Save any text that you want in an entry, and insert it into subsequent messages.
  • New in-place buttons let you immediately adjust how information is pasted. For example, after you paste text or a graphic, a button appears that offers options for formatting your pasted item.
  • Instead of entering e-mail addresses individually in the To box of messages, you can create distribution lists that let you send a message to any number of people by entering only one address.
  • You can organize your Inbox automatically by using the Rules Wizard to create rules that take actions like deleting or moving those messages that meet conditions you set.
  • You can also set options to automatically send read receipts when they are requested of you and to automatically move or delete read receipts that you request, as well as voting and meeting responses.
  • You can use the Reading Pane to view the contents of any item in your Inbox. You can open attachments, follow hyperlinks, use voting buttons, and respond to meeting requests, all without opening the item.
  • You can copy text and graphics from any other Office programs and paste them all into an Outlook item with one click.
Applies to:
Outlook 2003