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Creating Accessible Word Documents

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  1. Creating Accessible Word Documents Peter Mosinskis Supervisor of Web Services CSU Channel Islands Rev. 2008-01-31

  2. Overview • Why Accessible? • Creating Accessible Word documents • Word vs. HTML vs. PDF

  3. Why Make Information Accessible? • “Access for all” • Forward-thinking • Scalable • Manage Risk

  4. What Kinds of Disabilities? • Visual (blindness, low vision, color-blindness) • Hearing (deafness, hard of hearing) • Physical/Motor (weakness, muscle control, paralysis) • Cognitive/Neurological (dyslexia, intellectual or memory impairments) • Speech (difficulty producing speech) • Multiple Disabilities (deaf and blind)

  5. Examples of Assistive Technology • Input Devices • Joysticks and Trackballs • Mouth Sticks and Head Wands • On-Screen Keyboards and Touch Screens • Speech or Voice Recognition Software

  6. Examples of Assistive Technology • Output Devices • Screen Readers • Text-to-Speech Synthesizers • Screen Magnification • Refreshable Braille Display • Light signalers (to replace audio alerts)

  7. General Office Configuration

  8. Go to “Tools” menu Choose “Options” Go to “Save” tab Check “Prompt for document properties” checkbox Do this for every Office application (Word, Excel, PowerPoint) Excel: “General” tab, “Prompt for Workbook Properties” PowerPoint: Save tab, “Prompt for File Properties” Prompt for File Properties

  9. Accessibility and Microsoft Word Golden Rule:Keep It Simple and Well-Structured

  10. 7 Steps to Accessible Word Documents • Add text description to graphics and images • Use color correctly • Use Styles to add structure • Use Tables instead of tabs • Let Word create Bullets and Numbering • Provide a Table of Contents for long documents • Add document metadata

  11. Text Description of Graphics and Images • Text description of non-text elements (such as images or graphics) • Right-click on an object/image • Choose “Format Picture” • Choose “Web” tab • Enter text description • Click “OK”

  12. Text Description of Graphics and Images (cont.) • Once an image has “Alternative Text” in MS Word, the image can be copied & pasted into other MS Office applications (PowerPoint, Excel, etc.) and the alternative text will follow the image.

  13. How would you describe this?Example Figure 1

  14. Tips • First ask “who should describe this?” • Are you qualified to come up with a description? • If not, contact the originator of the information to provide a written description. • Short description • “G-protein coupled receptor” • Long Description • “The GPCR is pictured here spanning a cell membrane and binding a neurotransmitter molecule.” • Finally ask, “is this good enough for the intended audience?”

  15. How would you describe this?Example Figure 2

  16. Tips • Ask “Who should describe this?” • Write a Short Description • “Diagram of the conversion from embryo to stem cell” • Write Long Description • Should at least contain all of the text in the chart • Should go in body text, before or directly after the diagram • Ask, “is this good enough for the intended audience?”, if not, revise it.

  17. How to Describe Things • How to Create Descriptive Text • • Describing Fine Art • • Describing Audio •

  18. Use color correctly • Never depend on color alone to convey your content: you can use color, but not to define sole source of information or meaning • WRONG: • “See the red section for additional information” • CORRECT: • “See the section titled ‘More Info’ for additional information”

  19. Use good color contrast between background color and text Highest contrast: black text on white background To change font color: Highlight text Click on the “Font Color” icon Choose “Automatic” Use color correctly (cont.)

  20. Using Styles to Create aDocument Structure • Every document should be well-structured using these 4 structural elements: • Headings • Paragraphs • Lists • Tables

  21. Styles and Document Structure • Use Styles to add structure to your document • Styles only apply to paragraphs, not individual words • Benefit of Styles • Change your heading, paragraph and list formatting throughout your entire document with ease • Create meaningful document sections that can be used by assistive technology

  22. To apply a style: Highlight the text OR simply position your cursor in the paragraph to which you want to apply the style Click on the “Styles” dropdown, and choose the appropriate style Applying Styles To A Document

  23. Rules for Applying Styles • Do apply styles in descending numerical order • For example, Heading 1 (H1), then Heading 2 (H2) • Don’t skip styles • Do not apply Heading 1 (H1) and then Heading 3 (H3). • Once you have used a particular style, you may return to using that same style • Example:H1, then H2, then H2, then H1, then H2, then H3 • Do use common sense and logic when applying styles

  24. Neat Tricks for Styled Documents • Change the look of a heading throughout your document • Go to the “Format” menu, choose “Styles and Formatting” • Click on a style, and choose “Modify…” • Change style formatting (font, size, alignment, color, style) • Check the “Automatically update” checkbox • Click OK

  25. Modify Style dialog box

  26. About Writing Style • Keep it simple: use clearest and simplest language appropriate for a document’s content. • Divide content into “chunks” – manageable sections • White space: leave plenty of it, let it breathe! • Explain abbreviations and acronyms!

  27. Using Tables for Tabular Data • Use tables to format tabular data, not tabs • Tables export nicely to HTML/PDF • Tabs create scrambled layouts • Provide a brief summary of any data tables before the table appears in the document. • Provide a detailed written description of complex table content.

  28. Identify Table Row and Column Headings • Identify row and column headers in data tables • Screen readers and Braille displays read row-by-row across table columns

  29. Set “Heading Rows Repeat” Highlight heading row Choose “Table” menu Choose “Heading Rows Repeat” Identify Table Row and Column Headings

  30. Use Appropriate Font Formatting • Font sizes should be 10 point or larger • Use standard typefaces • Arial/Helvetica (basic sans serif) • Times/Times New Roman (basic serif) • Avoid typefaces such as • Use no more than 2 font families per document

  31. Use Appropriate Font Formatting • Use bold and italic styles judiciously • Rule of thumb: no more than 2 sentences in a row in any paragraph • Avoid using “underline” text altogether • Too easily confused with links

  32. Create Bullets and Numbered Lists • To create bullets • Highlight text • Choose “Bullets” icon • To create numbers • Highlight text • choose “Numbering” icon

  33. Table of Contents (TOC) provides a good overview of a document’s structure, especially for long documents To create a TOC: Go to the “Insert” menu, choose “Reference” Select “Index and Tables” Provide a Table of Contents

  34. Select the “Table of Contents” tab Click “OK”to finish Provide a Table of Contents

  35. Provide a Table of Contents • What it looks like when complete:

  36. Provide a Table of Contents (TOC) • To update page numbering in TOC: • Right-click (Windows) or Control-click (Mac) on the Table of Contents • Choose “Update Field” • Select “Update Entire Table” and click “OK”

  37. Add document metadata • Go to File menu • Choose Properties… • Enter in a descriptive, accurate title (most important) • Add other metadata as desired • Click OK • Save your document

  38. Document metadata hint • Put your document title in the first line of any Word document • That line will be pulled into the “Title” metadata field • That line will also become the file name • Caveats: can’t have any special characters or punctuation (no -, ?, *, etc.)

  39. Gotchas • Don’t use text boxes • They are not as flexible • They may be inaccessible to assistive technology when left in Word format • Use tables for layout instead • Use columns as desired • Works fine in native Word format • You may need to adjust reading order in PDF

  40. Choosing the Right Format HTML, MS Office, or PDF?

  41. HTML Pros & Cons • Pros • Can view with web browser • Best support of assistive technology • Most accessible solution when done correctly • Can partially automate compliance checking • Can edit using MS Word • Cons • Requires working knowledge of HTML or HTML editing software

  42. MS Office Pros & Cons • Pros • Prolific and familiar • Good for collaboration • Fairly accessible when done correctly • Cons • Different navigation via assistive technology • Requires users to install MS Office (or reader) on their computer • MS Office is not cheap/free (although readers are) • Not everyone has MS Office version • Can’t automate compliance checks

  43. PDF Pros & Cons • Pros • Reader is free • Very accessible when done correctly • Similar support of assistive technology as HTML • Maintains • Cons • Requires users to install PDF reader on their computer • Not easily editable by others • Must be generated by a source document (Word, InDesign, etc.) • Can’t automate compliance checks • Complex documents can only be made accessible with difficulty

  44. MS Office PDF HTML MORE ACCESSIBLE Accessibility Spectrum

  45. Best Strategy • Use HTML whenever possible, especially when building content for web sites • Use PDF when it’s important to preserve print formatting & distribute to widest audience; acceptable for the web • Use MS Office for collaborative projects; avoid posting on the web

  46. Either Way… • Accessibility compliance can’t be fully automated • Some manual checking will always be required • Some manual repair of HTML will almost always be required • MS Office and Acrobat don’t generate HTML perfectly • Complex = difficult to make accessible

  47. Saving Word as HTML

  48. How to Save Word as HTML • Go to “File” menu • Choose “Save as Web Page…”

  49. Set “Save as type” to “Web Page, Filtered” Name the file Click “Save” button How to Save Word as HTML (cont.)

  50. HTML Challenges • Images must accompany page • Images are not embedded in HTML like they are in Word • Is printability important? • Much less control over print output in HTML