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Enabling Staff to Produce Accessible Content. Excellence through Accessibility Workshop 27th February 2007 . XML Workshop Ltd. Technical Director: Eoin Campbell We provide the NDA with Word to accessible HTML conversion service Also offer accessibility auditing services

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Enabling Staff to Produce Accessible Content

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Enabling staff to produce accessible content l.jpg

Enabling Staff to Produce Accessible Content

Excellence through Accessibility Workshop

27th February 2007

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XML Workshop Ltd.

  • Technical Director: Eoin Campbell

  • We provide the NDA with Word to accessible HTML conversion service

  • Also offer accessibility auditing services

  • And YAWC Word to HTML subscription service


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  • Alternative title of talk:

    • How to upskill your colleagues to provide you with quality content for electronic publication

    • (through the medium of Microsoft Word)


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  • Most written content starts life inside a wordprocessing document…

    • Press Releases, Annual Reports, FoI Manuals, Customer Service Action Plans, etc.

  • …so improving the quality of the (upstream) authoring process should hopefully simplify its' (downstream) publication in various formats


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What is Quality...

  • In relation to narrative text content?

  • A number of facets:

    • Is it written well?

    • Is it presented well?

    • Is it structured well?

  • For electronic publications, structure is important

    • This is a new and non-intuitive concept!


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What is Structured Information?

  • Press Release: title, body text

  • Annual Report: frontmatter, chapters (with sections), appendices

  • FoI Manual: functions, records, publications, procedures


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Web Page Visual Structure

  • Top navigation and branding/logo

  • Side navigation

  • Main page content

  • Footer links


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Web Page Content Structure

  • H1 – main page title

    • H2 – section heading 1

      • H3 - subsection heading 1

    • H2 – section heading 2

      • H3 - subsection heading 1

      • H3 - subsection heading 2

  • HTML has a generic structure, it doesn't know (or care) what a Press Release is


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Word Document Structure

  • Title style – Document title

  • Heading 1 style - section heading 1

    • Heading 2 style – sub-section heading 1

  • Heading 1 style - section heading 2

    • Heading 2 style – sub-section heading 1

    • Heading 2 style – sub-section heading 2

  • Plus list and table structures

    • List Bullet, List Bullet 2…,

    • Table heading rows, table cells


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Word Document Structure is Generic

  • Word doesn’t know what a Press Release, a Chapter, or a Report is

    • (HTML doesn’t know either)

  • So the same Title style should be used for the main title of any document

    • Press Release, Report, or Chapter

  • It's easy to map built-in Word styles to corresponding HTML elements


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Word Style to HTML Element Map


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How to get Structured Content From Authors

  • Show authors how they benefit from structure

    • Because they don't care about anyone else

  • Teach how to create structure

    • With class-room and Just-in-time learning

  • Make it easy to apply structure

    • It is surprisingly difficult to do so in the default Word environment


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Benefits of Word Structure for Authors

  • (or, What's In It For Me?)

  • Easy to create and update a Table of Contents

  • Easy to modify appearance (e.g. change font family for Heading style)

  • Easy to move sections around (using View > Outline)

  • Easy to navigate long documents (using View > Document Map)


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Teaching Authors about Structure

  • Typical application training courses teach people aboutfeatures

    • Teaching people about structure is in the "Advanced" Word course

    • So some customised training is needed

  • Staff roles change, so new people always arriving

    • Need to plan for this with lots of resources

  • Reinforce message using allies in the organisation


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Learning Resources for Authors

  • A short, hands-on, class-room introduction

    • Scheduled every 3-6 months for new staff

    • Because staff roles change quite frequently

  • A printed and online guide to formatting

  • Online demonstrations using 'screencasts‘

  • Formal publishing procedures operating manual

  • Ongoing feedback (constructive) on delivered content


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Screencasts for Training

  • Create interactive 'How-To' demos

    • e.g. How to insert a hyperlink

    • Always available for reference (e.g. on an intranet)

  • Lots of good, cheap recording/annotation tools available

    • Macromedia Captivate, Camtasia, Wink (free)


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Publishing Procedures Manual

  • Important tool to capture essential knowledge/know-how

  • E.g. “How to publish a Press Release”

    • File name convention

      • YYYYMMDD.htm - Date format that sorts well

    • Folder location (/press/2007/)

    • Title Case Format Convention (CamelCase)

      • Or use sentence case – BUT BE CONSISTENT!


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Help from Allies

  • Other parts of the organisation can help achieve common goals

    • Training Unit

    • Disability Services

    • IT Support

    • Records Management/Archive Unit

    • Freedom of Information Officer

    • PRO/ Communications


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Default Word Editing Environment

  • By default, Word does not support creating structured documents

    • The formatting toolbar is presentation, not structure, oriented

    • No menu for applying styles

    • No keyboard shortcuts for structure styles

  • So authors need a Word template that assists them


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Word Structure Styles Template

  • Should provide multiple ways to apply structure

    • To suit different authoring styles

  • A menu for choosing structure styles

  • A toolbar for selecting common styles

  • Keyboard shortcuts for common styles


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Word Styles Menu


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Word Style Keyboard Shortcuts


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Publishing Word

  • Structured Word documents are quite accessible in their own right, but

    • Not device/platform-independent

      • Not even Word version independent!

    • Slow to download (with embedded images)

    • Insecure (may spread viruses)

    • Not suitable for search engine indexing

  • So should not be published online


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Converting Word

  • Word can be converted to accessible PDF, if

    • Adobe Acrobat Word plug-in is used

    • Acrobat configuration enables accessibility settings

  • 3rd-party PDF converters do not support accessibility

  • Acrobat does not convert PostScript files into accessible PDF

  • Some PDF resources available online

    • cf. www.xmlw.ie/aboutaccessibility/resources.htm


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Digression: DTP Packages

  • Many publications are typeset using specialised applications, such as QuarkXPress, Adobe InDesign, Microsoft Publisher

  • PDFs from these packages are often published online

    • But they are not accessible

    • i.e. not navigable, don't resize, and text flow is incorrect

  • Best approach is to save as RTF, and re-format in Word


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Publishing Word Online

  • Relatively easy to convert structured Word into HTML

  • Copy and paste Word into DreamWeaver or good web-based editing interface

    • e.g. eWebEditPro, XStandard

    • These automatically strip out excess formatting

  • Use "Save as Web page" command in Word

    • With Microsoft add-on to strip excess formatting

  • But manual clean-up usually necessary to ensure accessibility


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Converting Word to Accessible HTML

  • Specialist 3rd-party Word to XML/HTML converters

    • Far superior quality to copy and paste approach

    • Avoid manual clean-up entirely

    • Logictran and UpCast are best commercial applications

    • Quite cheap, but do require customisation

    • Cf. http://www.xmlw.ie/aboutxml/word2xml.htm

      • List of converters we have tried


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YAWC Online Service

  • Hosted conversion service

    • Based on Logictran conversion engine

    • Customised to generate fully accessible HTML

    • Automatically includes design template to create ready-to-publish HTML

  • Used by us to provide NDA and others with a document conversion service (~ €5 per A4 page)

  • Used by Dept. Enterprise staff to maintain website directly


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  • Structured information is accessible information

  • Structured information costs less:

    • to manage, maintain, publish and find

  • With a little help, everyone can create structured information using Word

    • Its much cheaper to create structured information at the start, than add structure at the end

  • Structured information in Word converts into accessible HTML


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Questions and Answers

Enabling Staff to Produce Accessible Content

Eoin Campbell, XML Workshop Ltd.


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