Friday, June 26, 2015

Creating Accessible Documents With Office 365 Word Online

General Conclusions: Word Online has potential since everyone working on a document through Word Online is running the same program. If good methods are followed (see below) the result is a Word document that is generally accessible. Export to PDF works relatively well, but not perfectly.
Accessible Documents
The Basics
  • Use headings
  • Use lists
  • Add alternate text to images
  • Identify document language
  • Use tables wisely
  • Understand how to export to other formats
  • Structured content
  • Tagged elements in the structure
    • Tags have “semantic” meaning to help assistive software understand what the element is
  • More than just looking good
    • Looking good does not help if you can’t see it
  • Meta information, such as language and alt text
  • Structure and tags transfer when document is exported to other formats
  • Habitual use of visual approach
  • Multiple versions of Word
    • Members of the team developing the document may each have different Word versions with different abilities
  • Providing comment and edit features
  • Use Heading styles in Styles menu
  • Use bulleted and numbered lists from Paragraph menu
Adding Alt text to images
  • Place graphic, right mouse click, select Format Picture, select Alt Text from popup, enter text into Title field and Description field, Close
Identify document language
  • Click Review, then Language, then Set Proofing Language, then select language (you may want to click Set As Default)
    • Otherwise the language is only set for selected text
Use tables wisely
  • Keep them simple
  • Identify the column header row
    • Select the header row
    • Right click on the row and select Table Properties
    • Click Row tab
    • Check “Repeat as header row at top of each page”
Exporting to other formats while preserving tabs and structure
  • Method depends on Word version
  • Do not print to PDF (tags will be lost)
  • On Word 2013 and Word 2010
    • Use File Save As, selecting PDF
    • Click on Options, make sure Document Structure Tags for Accessibility is checked
  • Mac Word 2011 does not export accessible PDFs
Office 365 Word Online
  • Microsoft Office 365 ProPlus available at no charge to all students, faculty, and staff (
  • Online distribution (in the cloud)
  • Works on PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone, and Windows and Android phones
  • Avoids the problem of people working on different versions
Giving Word Online a Try
  • Microsoft wants you to download their complete set of Office software to your local computer and use it in conjunction with Office 365 and all of its cloud based components.
  • All of the functionality described above is available in Word Online, although the specifics of where they are in the menus vary a bit
  • The accessibility checker that is part of later versions of the Word app does not seem to be in Word Online, but you can open your current file in your Word app to run a check.
  • Saving the document to PDF using Save As -> Download as PDF produced a PDF file that passed Adobe Acrobat Pro's accessibility scan with few problems.
    • Word Online does not seem to offer a way to associate a Title with the document that Adobe Acrobat Pro recognizes.
    • The ALT text given to the image was not recognized by Adobe Acrobat Pro. When I saved the image to PDF from the Word 2010 app, the same thing happened.
  • If everyone on a team uses Word Online to develop a document, they all have the same version of software, they can use the same features, and the result is a document that is itself accessible and which can export to an accessible PDF file.
  • Files are stored in your account space in the cloud and can be shared to other people.
  • How well will it work to create text in Word Online, then select/copy/paste it into Canvas?
  • Can multiple people edit the same Word Online document at the same time, as in Google Docs?
  • Are there other tools for assessing the accessibility of a Word file and PDF file?
  • Which is the better choice, Google Docs or Word Online?
  • Can Word Online be used to prepare footnotes?

Friday, June 05, 2015

AccessibleWeb@U May 28 Meeting Notes

Some quick notes on last week’s AccessibleWeb@U meeting

University of Washington Information Technology Accessibility Guidelines (
  • Signed on May 1 by Kelli Trosvig, VP of UW Information Technology and UW Chief Information Officer
  • They are guidelines, not policies
  • Affirms UW commitment to "in its services, programs, activities, education, and employment for individuals with disabilities." This commitment includes access to information technology (IT) that the UW develops, procures, or uses, such as websites, software, hardware, and media.”
  • States that “The UW looks to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Level AA for guidance in meeting its IT accessibility commitments. WCAG 2.0 provides success criteria for measuring web accessibility.”
  • Points to the UW IT Accessibility Checklist  ( for specifics.
  • PDF version available at
IT Accessibility Checklist (
  • Organized by Perceivable, Operable, Understandable, Robust categories
  • Closely coordinated with the WCAG 2 level AA criteria
  • Demonstrated how the Checklist can be used to find guidance on specific questions, such as how to do a Skip to Content link
  • Also discussed the No Mouse campaign (