Microsoft is looking to improve the accessibility of its flagship IDE with features such as audio cues, whitespace rendering controls, and a focus mode for eliminating notifications and other distractions.

While the company will seek feedback from users, Microsoft said that a few ideas already have emerged as feature possibilities. One is the expansion of audio cues, which has benefitted the visually impaired and the blind community. Microsoft noted that some workflows would benefit from more audio cues and that a richer environment could be provided for hooking up audio cues to events in Visual Studio.

Other accessibility features under consideration include:

  • A focus mode to allow developers to tune out notifications and distractions at times, akin to cell phones having “Do Not Disturb” modes to reduce distractions. Microsoft is asking what kinds of distractions would be filtered out. Windows 10 already has a “Focus Assist” mode to reduce notifications.
  • Whitespace rendering controls allow users to specify the render width of indentation regardless of whether spaces or tabs are used in the file. This could assist the visually impaired.
  • A new capability in the Options dialogue to limit the displayed options to only those having to do with accessibility. This feature also could be extended to areas such as security or privacy. With this capability, developers would find it easier to find groups of similar options to customize their experience.

In seeking feedback, Microsoft said it wants to know what behaviours in Visual Studio limit productivity, regardless of whether the issue falls into the category of “accessibility” or not.

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Nikoleta Yanakieva Editor at DevStyleR International