Microsoft Office 2010 Ribbon menus are too cluttered, and the colors/contrast are horrible for Visually Impaired people.
We have Visually Impaired students with contrast issues who are having a real hard time with the pale shades of color and the very cluttered ribbon menus in Microsoft Office 2010 programs. We have tried using the high contrast mode in the computer's display settings, but turning that off and on frequently freezes up the computer. We are also running ZoomText V.10 Reading and Magnifying software. The high contrast settings in that software also do not work well enough with Office's color schemes. It would be great if the developers could add another color scheme to the menus in Office programs that would make the menus more distinct and higher contrast.
Could I ask what version of Windows you're using? I've just been looking at the ribbon in Word 2010, running on Windows 7. These are the steps I took...
1. I clicked with the right mouse button on the desktop, and clicked Personalize in the menu that appeared in order to get to the Personalization Control Panel.
2. I then clicked one of the High Contrast themes.
3. When I then ran Word 2010, the ribbon appeared using the colors associated with the high contrast theme.
4. I then clicked on the "Window Color" link in the Personalization Control Panel, and a "Window Color and Appearance" window appeared, which allowed me to change the color of some of the things shown in the ribbon.
The image below shows the ribbon after I set some of the colors myself. I couldn't change the colors of all the things in the ribbon. For example, the colors of the images shown on the Bold, Italic and other buttons. I could set the colors used in the tooltips shown when hovered the mouse over those buttons.
Sometimes it takes a little while for the computer to react to me selecting a high contrast theme. When you've seen the computer freezing up, does it eventually come back to life? If so, how long do you have to wait? Do you get the same behavior if you're not running any other programs?
Thank you for your response, Guy. We are using Windows 7 Home Premium. Originally we tried the High Contrast theme and, yes, it does help greatly with the menus in Word 2010. We noticed you had to be patient and wait several seconds for the effect to take place. But, we found we were switching in and out of the High Contrast mode frequently, as it wasn't needed or wanted in other applications. After switching 4 or 5 times between modes, the computer would freeze and we would have to restart. We also had running in the background ZoomText Magnifier/Reader, never tried to recreate the problem without it. ZoomText can at times cause conflicts and glitches, so I don't know if that was a contributor or not. My students did not like the high contrast mode when they need to insert graphics in a document, it messes up the colors there and you can't get a correct view of the finished product. If we could just get the menus in Office 2010 to have a high contrast choice without having to turn the whole computer into high contrast mode, that would be great.
I’m afraid I won’t be any help here. As far as I know, there’s no way to change the colors shown in Word’s ribbon, other than by changing the color theme used by all programs in Windows. (I have made the Office team aware of your question on this forum.)
I can appreciate how switching in and out of high contrast isn’t what you want to have to do. Sometimes it can take a while to turn high contrast on as you said. I’ve never had the computer freeze completely as you have; I don’t know if this is affected by other programs you may have running.
One thing that might be of interest to some people would be the Magnifier that comes with Windows 7. If color inversion is helpful, (which I realize is not at all the same thing as applying specific colors to different things shown on the screen), then the Magnifier shortcuts can make this quick and easy. For example, to run Magnifier, press the Windows+Plus keys on the keyboard. By default Magnifier will zoom in to 200%. (Press Windows+Escape to close Magnifier.) While Magnifier is running, pressing Ctrl+Alt+i will invert the screen colors. And if you only want color inversion without magnification, you could press Windows+Minus while Magnifier is running. This will zoom out, so you can have no magnification while Magnifier is running, but you can still do Ctrl+Alt+i whenever you want color inversion, and then Ctrl+Alt+i again to turn color inversion off. (The picture below shows Word with Magnifier running at 100% zoom, along with color inversion turned on.)
This might not be of interest to your students, but I thought I’d mention it anyway. Sorry I can’t be more help.