In my work with the CMTO I’ve been developing techniques to best assist learners in community radio who are using screen readers – ie. people who are blind or have a vision impairment. Screen readers convert written text into voice, so that a user who is blind can ‘read’ the text, from top to bottom (as long as that text is formatted to be accessible, more about that here). Using a screen reader to read back a pre-written script in real time can be a challenge for some screen reader users, but worth the effort to become confident on-air.
Those canny developers at Vision Australia last year made my life easier with their Document Accessibility Toolbar for MS Word that you can find here: https://www.visionaustralia.org/services/digital-access/document-accessibility-toolbar/
Now web developers can try out their Web Accessibility Toolbar for Internet Explorer here: https://www.visionaustralia.org/services/digital-access/resources/web-accessibility-toolbar-ie
In recent weeks I’ve been exploring the wonderful (and hitherto mostly unknown to me) world of accessible word documents. In MS Word, using document styles, headings and alternative descriptions (alt-tags) on images makes your document more readable for those using screenreaders, as well as more consistently formatted for everyone else. In addition, formatting for accessibility in word before creating text in websites makes the job of accessible website design simpler. Accessibility checkers added to Word help you double-check it’s all ok.
I’ve written my entire doctoral thesis using the Vision Australia accessibility add-on for Word you can find at this link: https://www.visionaustralia.org/services/digital-access/document-accessibility-toolbar
But did you know there is an even EASIER way? MS Word templates! The templates demonstrate how you can have a design that is accessible and useful, as well as visually attractive.
The Word “Accessible Template Sampler” includes:
- Birthday invitations, cards and posters
- Labels and business cards (if you want to go that extra mile with your business cards, you can get Braille ones from any of the business listed on the Braille Guide website here: http://brailleaustralia.org/finding-braille/directory/#books )
You can find a whole range of fully accessible Word templates trialed by people with a disability for use-ability here: https://templates.office.com/en-US/Accessible-Template-Sampler-TM16402471
Word is also full of helpful advice on achieving accessible docs here: Link to accessibility advice on MSOffice site where they also have a Microsoft Disability Answer Desk if you have problems.
If you still have trouble, you might like to consider hiring Media Access Australia’s accessible document service here: https://www.mediaaccess.org.au/digitalaccessibilityservices/accessible-digital-communications/accessible-word-templates/
MSOffice also make accessible templates for Powerpoint! Find them at this link: https://templates.office.com/EN-US/accessible-template-sampler-TM16401472
Sometimes screen readers used by vision-impaired people have trouble with digital documents.
Vision Australia’s Access Consultants Pierre Frederiksen and Leona Zumbo have developed a Digital Accessibility Toolbar that you can add to Word to help realise the dream!
“An innovation that revolutionises the ease and speed of creating accessible documents in Microsoft Word, the Document Accessibility Toolbar (DAT) supports individuals and organisations to embrace accessibility as ‘business as usual’ at no cost.”
Download it at this link: https://www.visionaustralia.org/dat
Vision Australia have a full accessibility toolkit here: https://www.visionaustralia.org/services/digital-access/services/accessibility-toolkit