Inspiration for inclusive features comes from customers
Published Jul 29 2021 09:51 AM 21.1K Views

We’re back with another update on our journey to make Excel work well for everyone! To read the first blog in this series, follow this link: Excel Accessibility Blog Series: Part 1.


As a recap of our first post, Excel and Microsoft continually invest to make our products inclusive and accessible to everyone, including people with disabilities. Our three core objectives are:

  1. To ensure Excel works seamlessly with assistive technology;
  2. To build inclusive and delightful experiences inspired by people with disabilities; and
  3. To support authors to create accessible content.


Introducing Navigation pane

Today, we’ll focus on the second objective: building inclusive and delightful experiences inspired by people with disabilities. We are excited to announce that the Navigation pane in Excel for Windows is now available to those in the Office Insiders program!



We were inspired to create the Navigation pane when we saw a person who is blind navigating in a spreadsheet. The table with all the data she needed to find didn’t start in cell A1 at the top of the page, so she needed to search around to find the information. It was a frustrating experience and slowed her down. That prompted us to ask her (and others) more questions about the way they find and navigate within their spreadsheets today. We heard one person describe their experience as follows: "Driving in Excel is like driving in a bumper car…you do not know if you are running into the fence or into somebody else…except [Excel] is less fun."


We built the Navigation pane with three goals in mind:

  • Orient customers quickly to the structure of an unfamiliar workbook;
  • Help customers find content efficiently and feel the confidence that they have not missed content; and
  • Provide an easy way to navigate between different worksheets and Excel objects, and to update basic properties of those objects.


These objectives are applicable whether you are blind and can’t see to find where the content is, a novice Excel user who doesn’t know where to start after opening a workbook created by someone else, or an Excel power user with dozens of worksheets that you need to sort through to find the data you need. Our interviews with people who are blind or have low vision were supplemented by feedback and requests from our larger Excel community to design Navigation pane. We’re excited to make Navigation pane available and expect it to be a game changer for how people use Excel. As one of our customers who is blind said, “This is one of the most awaited features in the community that would make the interaction more intuitive... I am pretty excited about it!”


Next steps

Please let us know what you think! Your feedback and suggestions shape our approach to accessibility and inclusive design. To get in touch, contact the Disability Answer Desk or use File > Feedback. We look forward to hearing from you!


This is the second in a series of blogs about our accessibility work in Excel (view first blog here). We hope you will join us over the next several months as we discuss exciting new improvements to Excel through an inclusive lens.


Subscribe to our Excel Blog and join our Excel Community to stay connected with us and other Excel fans around the world.


Version history
Last update:
‎Jul 29 2021 09:51 AM
Updated by: