Markdown systemwide for rich text writing and reading
[Markdown](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Markdown), is a plain text method of entering and reading text. It's mainly used on the web, but I'd love for it to be all over Windows, so that people, blind or otherwise, can focus on writing and reading, have complete control of formatting, and finally have at least one way for braille users to know what text styles are used, and to easily use them too. It can even be used by sighted people who are now used to using basic Markdown symbols.
Windows has begun adding features so that users can focus on tasks more. Focus assist, focus assist while gaming, and Nightlight all help people more easily use their device in certain situations. Markdown could be used to this effect as well. For people who may find reading normal formatting jarring, when an italicized word appears in a plain paragraph, for example, Markdown may be a good alternative, giving the formatting information without the change in text styling.
For blind people, text formatting is invisible to us, unless we use Narrator's "Emphasize formatting" setting, or JAWS' Speech and Sound schemes, which require much customization to use. Therefore, Markdown will allow us to access much of what a sighted person sees visually, without needing to customize our screen reader.
Markdown would also allow blind people to write well-formatted text correctly, without worrying where the italics or bold begins and ends because the screen reader sends a plain stream of words to our ears that makes it hard to pause and think about what the text even italics on says italics off. Instead, when the blind user learns what the formatting symbols mean, for headings, lists, bold, italics, and so on, they can then type them, and read them with their screen reader, which allows them to edit the formatting as if they are editing text.
This is even more important for braille display users, as there is no screen reader that shows formatting correctly in the braille code. Some screen readers use "Status cells," but those are not precise, as they do not show which word(s) of the possibly 80 cells of braille are formatted, and can only have eight possible formatting symbols. Because of this, braille users cannot easily read or write formatted text. Markdown would solve both, reading and writing, problems.
Lastly, people without disabilities already use a few Markdown formatting symbols in daily online writing. Since operating systems do not understand visual formatting in many text areas, people simply use Markdown writing, which much of the Internet understands. Adding Markdown system-wide, and to Microsoft Office and other such apps for accessibility reasons, would allow users who know italics, bold, and underline, to use these and create authentically formatted work. Blind people, on the other hand, could read formatted books, web pages, and so on in what screen readers usually read best, plain text, with Markdown giving the best of both worlds.
Devin thanks for leaving your detailed feedback on markdown with us. We will be sure to pass this feedback on to the engineering team. Please continue to leave your feedback and upvote posts that you agree with.