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Accessibility in Visual Studio Tools for Office

Note Required applications

The features in this topic are available only if you have the required applications installed.

For more information, see Features Available by Product Combination.

  • One of these development environments:

    VSTO 2005


    Visual Studio Team System

  • Microsoft Office 2003

Microsoft Visual Studio and Microsoft Office 2003 include many accessibility features that enable you to build custom solutions that meet standard accessibility requirements. Microsoft publishes guidelines for accessibility on its Web site at

In most cases, Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 Tools for the Microsoft Office System meets accessibility standards or exposes properties that you can set to make your solutions accessible. However, there are some features that have limited accessibility.

Windows Forms Controls on Office Documents

Windows Forms controls expose accessibility properties to provide information about the control to accessibility aids, such as screen readers. You can take advantage of these accessibility properties when the controls are on Office documents. For more information, see Providing Accessibility Information for Controls on a Windows Form.

However, there are some accessibility limitations at run time when Windows Forms controls are hosted on a Microsoft Office Excel or Microsoft Office Word document.

  • You cannot tab from one control to another.

  • Controls on a document are disabled when you change the zoom setting of the document to anything other than 100%.

For information about limitations of Windows Forms controls on documents, see Limitations of Windows Forms Controls on Office Documents.

Word and Excel Menus and Toolbars

When a document is open inside Visual Studio, the menus that belong to Word or Excel merge with the Visual Studio menus when the document has focus. These menus are accessible from the Visual Studio menu bar. For more information, see Office Menus in the Visual Studio Environment.

However, the toolbars that belong to Word and Excel are not merged with Visual Studio toolbars. Word and Excel toolbars cannot be accessed using the shortcut keys associated with them. The shortcut keys are instead mapped to the Visual Studio toolbars.

Shortcut Keys

When Word or Excel is open inside Visual Studio, only one application at a time receives the shortcut key commands. By default, Visual Studio receives all shortcut key commands, but you can make Word or Excel receive them when the document has focus by selecting Dynamic keyboard scheme in the keyboard settings options dialog box. For more information, see Microsoft Office Word Keyboard, Microsoft Office Keyboard Settings, Options Dialog Box and Microsoft Office Excel Keyboard, Microsoft Office Keyboard Settings, Options Dialog Box.

Actions Pane Controls

When an actions pane has focus, you access controls the same way you would access controls on a Windows Forms application. To move your cursor between the actions pane and the document, you can press F6.

Display Modes

Visual Studio Tools for Office has the following limitations related to display modes:

  • Controls on a document are disabled when you change the zoom setting of the document to anything other than 100%.

  • The New Project dialog box does not display controls correctly if a user changes the computer's accessibility options to Use High Contrast.

You can use Magnifier to overcome these limitations. Magnifier is a display utility in Microsoft Windows that creates a separate window that displays a magnified portion of the screen.

See Also