Accessible Course Documents

Microsoft Word Accessibility Guideline

  • Address all warnings and errors in the Microsoft Word Accessibility checker – (File -> Info -> Inspect Document-> Check Accessibility).
    Rationale:The accessibility checker addresses a number of accessibility issues. The Accessibility checker is available in Microsoft Office 2010 and 2013.
    Note: The document will need to be saved in a .DocX format before using the Accessibility Checker.
  • Structure the document using styles for headings (not just bold, italics and/or a different font size) and other formatting elements (such as color). (Styles are on the right side of the Home tab).
    Rationale: Screen reader users navigate through a document using heading styles. Styles also convey emphasis and semantic meaning, where formatting (i.e. bold, or size) does not.
  • Use the column or table feature to create columns. (Tables are on the insert tab, columns are on the page layout tab).
    Rationale: Screen readers read left to right top to bottom. Using the column feature will override this and allow the information to be read top to bottom before being read across. Avoid using tabs and/or spaces to create columns.
  • Use text in addition to the color to convey information (e.g. “Important items are red and marked with an *.”).
    Rationale: Color blind students may not discern different colors (“required items are in red”), and need a textual marker (such as an * next to the required item).
  • Make document available in either Microsoft Office (.doc or .docx) or Rich Text (.rtf) format.
    Rationale: Microsoft Office and Rich Text files are easily processed by screen readers or other tools used to provide materials in alternate formats.
  • If the permissions of the document are set to prevent editing, provide an additional copy of document as accessible PDF or HTML (web page).
    Rationale: Students with poor visual acuity and those with certain learning disabilities, such as dyslexia, may need to alter text with poor contrast, small type, or fonts with serifs.
  • Render any mathematical equations or scientific notation used in the document beyond basic operations (e.g., addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division) in an accessible MathML format through the use of an equation editor (e.g., MathType).
    Rationale: Equations are often read by screen readers as graphics and not as actual equations, or the order of the equation is jumbled. MathML can be used to avoid this.
    Note: The equation editor in Microsoft Word cannot produce accessible MathML.
  • Use ALT Text to describe all images, charts, tables, graphs, shapes and objects. Provide detailed description in the text preceding the image.
    • Rationale: By providing labels and description for more complex graphics screen readers make the information available to all.

 

Microsoft Excel Accessibility Guideline

  • Address all warnings and errors in the Microsoft Accessibility checker – (File -> Info -> Inspect Worksheet-> Check Accessibility).
    Rationale: The accessibility checker addresses a number of accessibility issues. The Accessibility checker is available in Microsoft Office 2010 and 2013.
  • Specify column header information in Excel tables.
    Rationale: Having clear column headings can help provide context and assist navigation of the table’s contents.
  • Avoid using blank cells, rows, or columns for formatting.
    Rationale: Blank cells, rows, or columns could mislead someone using a screen reader into thinking that there is nothing more in the table.
  • Provide meaningful names for the workbook and for each spreadsheet in the file.
    Rationale: Screen readers will read these names, which aides in navigation.
  • Provide alternative descriptions for images, formulas, and other items that do not translate naturally into text.
    Rationale: Non-text elements such as pictures, graphs, charts, and other items require alternative text to describe the visual characteristics.
  • If the permissions of the document are set to prevent editing, either allow formatting changes, or provide an additional copy of document as accessible PDF or HTML (web page).
    Rationale: Students with poor visual acuity and those with certain learning disabilities, such as dyslexia, may need to alter text with poor contrast, small type, or fonts with serifs.

Additional usability considerations

  • Text descriptions of links to websites should be explicit in describing what the reader will encounter when clicking the link and not like “Read more” or “Click here”.
    Rationale: Screen reader users often list the hyperlinks in a document; a series of “read more” links isĀ  meaningless. “Mike’s Auto Shop” is more meaningful than http://www.mikefixescars.com.
  • Provide a general description of the spreadsheet contents and navigation in cell A1. It will be the first cell accessed by assistive technologies.
    Rationale: Makes navigation much easier
  • If the workbook contains more than 4 worksheets, create a worksheet with links to each worksheet.
    Rationale: This makes it easier for the user to navigate the workbook.
  • Use cell addressing (cell/range naming).
    Rationale: When using the shortcut Ctrl + G, a dialog box will open and the screen reader will read all of the defined making it easier to navigate.
  • Avoid merging cells.
    Rationale: this can make it more difficult for users of assistive technologies and people navigating your spreadsheet using the keyboard.

 

Microsoft PowerPoint Accessibility Guideline

  • Address all warnings and errors in the Microsoft Accessibility checker – (File -> Info-> Inspect Presentation-> Check Accessibility).
    Rationale: The accessibility checker addresses a number of accessibility issues. The Accessibility checker is available in Microsoft Office 2010 and 2013.
  • Utilize slide layout templates provided by program when creating presentation.
    Rationale: Slide layout templates have been tested to work with screen readers. Templates assist with readability and reading order for screen readers. Avoid drawing or creating ad-hoc text or content areas onto layouts.
  • Use text in addition to the color to convey information (e.g. “Important items are red and marked with an *.”)
    Rationale: Color blind students may not discern different colors (“required items are in red”), and need a textual marker (such as an * next to the required item).
  • Deactivate self-advancing (timed) features.
    Rationale: Slides that advance on a timer restrict individuals from accessing all information on slide. Individuals work through information at different paces, all self-pacing to ensure better retention of information on slide.
  • Include all Information depicted on slides in outline view.
    Rationale: Screen reader software reads text information off the outline view, not the actual slide. Thus any information not included in the outline will not be accessible to someone using a screen reader.
  • Verify that information in outline view is in same order as in presentation mode.
    Rationale: Reading order is essential to ensure information is comprehensible and understood as intended. Review outlines and makes changes to ensure that text information is presented in same reading order as presented on slide.
  • Include detailed alternate text for non-text items (e.g. pictures, tables, graphs, charts, etc.)embedded in the slide content or in the notes section of the slide.
    Rationale: Any essential information for an image must be relayed via text description to ensure access as screen readers cannot interpret image files.
  • Include captions or an embedded transcript for any video or audio components.
    Rationale: Captions (videos) or transcripts (audio files) are essential components of multimedia access for individuals with hearing loss or auditory processing issues.
  • Allow users to modify font (size and family) and colors (backgrounds and text color).
    Rationale: Clear, clean, and simple text is the best way to effectively relay information. Anything that impedes the readability of a slide impacts the efficacy of the teaching. Use of things like word art and fancy fonts can impact readability by individuals or screen readers.

Checklist for Oral Presentation

  • Use minimally-patterned slide backgrounds and remove excessive animation or rapidly flashing elements.
    Rationale: Extraneous visual gimmicks, like flashing text or excessive transitions, may disrupt the information presented and pull focus away from the content.Animation can cause migraines or seizures.
  • Describe any Information available only in visual format (e.g. images like pictures, tables, graphs) or auditory format (e.g. audio clips, music,etc.) during presentation.
    Rationale: Any information presented visually on the PowerPoint should be referenced in detail during presentation. Essential information should be verbalized. Presenters should draw attention to auditory information being portrayed (e.g. audio clips) so an individual with hearing loss is aware, as an individual who is focusing on speaker can miss other auditory information being shared if not alerted.
  • Indicate slide transition with a sound or vocal announcement (e.g.”next slide”).
    Rationale: Indicating when a new slide is being presented helps users follow with notes, handouts, or personal electronic copies.

Additional usability considerations for Presentations (suggested but not required)

  • Use simple sans serif fonts at no less than 24 points.
    Rationale: serif fonts can make letters difficult to distinguish on screen;smaller fonts are often unreadable from the back of the room.
  • Select a high contrast with background with limited decoration.
    Rationale: high contrast colors will help ensure text is readable even in poorly lit rooms. Busy slides with lots of decorative backgrounds can be distracting.
  • Share presentation files with individuals electronically before the live presentation so individuals who utilize screen readers or enhancers will be able to access the file before, during, or after the course.
    Rationale: Sharing an accessible electronic copy before the class is essential to allow each student to access the file however necessary for access. The professor has only to create the accessible version and share it; students are responsible for the end result(e.g. enlarged printouts for visually impairments, screen reader for blindness,printouts with notes areas for Attention Deficits, etc.).

 

PDF Accessibility Guideline

  • The original document meets all guidelines for accessibility.
    Rationale: PDF files are typically created in some other application or by scanning existing documents. Review the Guidelines & Standards for creating accessible text, spreadsheets, and presentations before creating your PDF version. Begin with an accessible text document BEFORE converting to PDF.
  • Verify the document is a searchable text file, not an image-only scan.
    Rationale: Documents scanned without OCR (optical character recognition) may appear to an assistive technology as large images without readable/selectable text.
  • Indicate document structure and non-text elements by tags.
    Rationale: well-formed, tagged PDF documents ensure logical reading order, that all text is selectable and readable for assistive technology, and that users can navigate the document using document structure (e.g. headings, footers, page numbers, etc.).
  • Ensure clear reading order is easy to follow.
    Rationale: PDF files created from brochures and other documents with tables, columns, and multi-page articles may result in unexpected reading order or document flow.
  • Specify the document language.
    Rationale: Setting the document language in a PDF enables some screen readers to switch to the appropriate language.
  • Select document fonts that allow characters to be extracted to text.
    Rationale: Custom fonts or symbol-based fonts may not be readable by screen readers or other assistive technologies. Users should be able to select an alternate font to view/print the document.
  • Set document permissions to allow access for assistive technology.
    Rationale: A document author can specify that no part of an accessible PDF is to be copied, printed, extracted, commented on, or edited. This setting can interfere with the user of a screen reader’s ability to read the documents. Screen readers must be able to copy or extract the document’s text to convert it to speech.
  • Provide alternative descriptions for images, formulas, and other items that do not translate naturally into text.
    Rationale: non-text elements such as pictures, graphs, charts, and other items require alternative text to describe the visual characteristics.
  • Mark up data tables with proper table structure including row and column headings. Table summaries are optional unless the table data cannot be understood without it.
    Rationale: when tables are used to organize or present data (and not for layout), they must include additional markup to ensure users can associate the content of each cell with its appropriate modifiers.
  • Add tags to links created through annotations/PDF mark-up.
    Rationale: Links added to a PDF after it is created associates the link with the geographic region of the page and not in the regular flow of the text. In order to ensure the link is available for keyboard and assistive technology users, additional tags must be added to identify the link location within the reading flow of the text.
  • Mark up/tag lists to group list items together.
    Rationale: Assistive technology will recognize and group together items identified as part of a list. Without this information, users may have difficulty navigating the list and interpreting the start and end of the list. If list tags were not generated in the original document, they should be added after conversion to PDF.
  • For documents with original pagination, add Page Labels to reflect the page number formatting, including appendices and front matter.
    Rationale: if Page Labels has not been provided to describe the page number formatting, the page numbering scheme will not be reflected in the Page Navigation toolbar in Adobe Acrobat Pro or Reader. This toolbar displays the page number in a text box, which users can change to move to another page. In addition, users can select the arrows to move one page up or down in the document. Page Labels help users locate themselves in a document by ensuring that the page numbering displayed in the PDF viewer page controls has the same page numbering as the document.
  • Add navigational aids to long documents (6 or more pages).
    Rationale: Users without a mouse for scrolling and users of assistive technology utilize bookmarks and tables of content to quickly navigate to relevant sections of longer documents.

For Accessibility specifically regarding forms in Acrobat XI read the following article: http://webaim.org/techniques/acrobat/forms