7 tips for smart Word doc accessibility

Graphic of Microsoft Word with a cartoon person scratchng their head Your website might be W3C and WCAG compliant for accessibility, but what about the documents you upload? In some organisations operational staff are expected to write material such as fact sheets, promotional flyers, and other documents for uploading to the website. Larger organisations might have an editor or someone in charge of media and communications. But do they all know what is required to make these documents accessible?

Media Access Australia provides Seven Simple Tips for smart Word doc accessibility. While some of the advice looks a bit technical, most of it is fairly basic such as creating Alt-text for images so that a screen reader can identify the picture or graphic. Another good point is not using terms such as “Click here” to go to a link. Instead, embed a hyperlink within the name of the file that is in the text. And the perennial one, avoid jargon. Note that .doc files don’t have the same accessibility features as the newer .docx (Word 2010).


Inclusive Toolkit by Microsoft

A black circle with the word inclusive in white letteringMicrosoft has produced a great document that spells out the need to design inclusively. The way the issues are explained can be applied to any design discipline. This resource is a best practice example of how to present a persuasive argument for designing universally. Here is a sample from the text:

“Inclusive design has a strong heritage in accessibility. There are great examples of inclusive practices from architecture, physical products and public spaces. Yet, digital technology presents new opportunities to expand this expertise in new ways. In this toolkit, we define inclusive design as a set of practices that can be applied to any existing design process. Inclusive is how we design. It’s our tools and methods. In comparison, accessibility offers ways to improve access to what is already designed. A curb cut is still a curb. The cut makes the curb more accessible. Inclusive design gives us ways to design for ever-changing human motivations and needs. And design systems that can adapt to fit those diverse needs.”

Download the toolkit here



ICT solutions website

Picture of a website page displaying a bank of buttons for various solutions such as keyboard, email, playing games and using a mouseAbility Technology has a great website providing solutions to everyday accessibility problems, with computers and mobile phones. Topics include using email, writing, reading, using the keyboard and playing games. There is also a section on environmental controls such as opening doors, operating lights, switches and air conditioners.

Ability Technology also conducts research and papers can be accessed on their website as well.




Webpages and mobile phones

mobile phonesNon-profit organisations need to stay up to date with their website design and content, which are becoming an increasingly important means of communicating with clients, donors and stakeholders.

A responsive website is one that is easily accessed by a smart phone, tablet, or laptop / desktop computer. The design has to consider not just how the page looks on a computer screen, but also a mobile phone or tablet. With mobile web use growing eight times faster than Internet use it’s important that the website is mobile ready.
Functioning correctly can mean a variety of things. Displaying webpages properly, reading easily, all the links working properly, have image display fully, making it easy on potential donors to access and give via mobile devices, among myriad other variables.
Why is this important? The Internet is changing constantly, and users are beginning to gravitate heavily towards mobile. The problem is, websites are not responding to these new devices with smaller display sizes and is frustrating this new generation of Internet users. Go to the Techimpact blog for more.


Media Accessibility Guide

service providers accessibility guideMedia Access Australia has produced a comprehensive quick reference guide for accessible communications.  Although the target audience is service providers that deliver support to NDIS participants, it is useful for all organisations that want to make their information accessible. The contents include information on how people with disability access online information, producing and distributing messages, publishing content online, accessible emails, and engaging with social media.  The original guide was funded by Australian Government Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs in 2013.


Communication Accessibility Guidelines for Events

conference live captioning 2Event organisers not only have to consider physical access – they also have to consider communication access for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. However, while one in six people in Australia have a hearing loss, this aspect of events is often forgotten by event organisers and venue managers. Communication accessibility is covered by the Disability Discrimination Act. While some venues claim that a hearing loop is installed, this may not be sufficient, particularly if it is not functioning as is often the case.

Auslan signingDeaf Children Australia have produced a comprehensive set of guidelines for event organisers covering Auslan interpreters, live captioning, and hearing loop technology. At the end of the guidelines is a useful checklist. Unfortunately the website has pale lettering on a white background.

People who have a hearing loss often choose not to reveal this conference captioning Geraspect of themselves, consequently organisers receive little, if any, feedback about the efficacy or otherwise of hearing loops. Anecdotally, people with and without hearing loss often find captioning useful particularly if they have English as a second language, or if the speaker has an unfamiliar accent. More technical detail on hearing loops can be found on the Printacall website.


Choosing an IT system and designer

computer screenThe Centre for Excellence in Universal Design in Ireland has a comprehensive Toolkit that takes potential purchasers of IT systems through the process of procurement, inlcuding assessing potential suppliers, and overseeing the successful implementation of accessibility features. It also shows how to build the skills required to manage the accessibility of the resulting system and user interfaces once the set-up phase is complete. This means ensuring that documents staff produce for uploading to the website also meet the accessibility criteria.

Download the IT Procurement Toolkit here.