The correct way to provide structure within Word documents is to use Word styles. The drop-down styles list in Word allows you to create true headings, as well as apply any previously-created custom style.
There are a couple of advantages of having true structure in Word documents. First, if you export the file to HTML, it will retain the structure, making it accessible to screen readers. Second, the structure will also be retained if you export to PDF. In both cases, the added structure increases the readability of the document for people using screen readers.
Most people use word processors incorrectly. Rather than use true headings, they simply enlarge the font size and make it bold. If you do this, the document has no real structure that can be discerned by a screen reader.
Pages should be structured in a hierarchical manner, with 1st
degree headings (
the most important (usually page titles or heading), then 2nd
degree headings (
usually major section headings), down to 3rd degree headings
(sub-sections of the
), and so
on. Technically, lower degree headings should be contained within
headings of the next highest degree.
In terms of font accessibility, there are a number of principles to keep in mind:
The use of color can enhance comprehension, but do not use color alone to convey information. That information may not be available to a person who is colorblind and will be unavailable to screen reader users.
You will need to add alternative text for all of your images. To provide alternative text,on the image, then select .
A dialogue box will appear. Select thetab, then add the appropriate alternative text.
For the most part, Word documents can be converted into accessible HTML, but there is an
exception. Tables cannot be converted to accessible data tables through
the Filtered Web page format. That is, there is no way to assign the
table header or
tag to a table
cell within Word.
There is an option within Word that creates the appearance of a table header. This can be found by right-clicking the table and selecting. This opens a new window. Under the tab, there is a box labeled "Repeat as header on the top of each page." Checking that box would suggest that all of the cells in the row will be exported as table header tags, but they won't.
Instead the cells will all be contained in a
are used to divide the tables into the the three main parts of a data
table. There is no problem with the
tag, but it does not replace the need for the
tag. More on accessible tables.
If you create complex documents, with embedded charts, tables, or other elements, the conversion process will probably not create a file that is completely accessible to screen readers. The embedded elements will likely be ignored by the screen reader because they are unreadable. In these instances, you should provide a text description of the elements within the context of the document itself.
Once you have included structure in your Word document and have made accommodations for font, color, images, and tables, you can save your Word document and upload it to BeachBoard.
If you save the file as HTML,
your structure and
text will be
retained in the final document. To save as HTML, select .
If you have Office XP or later, you have two options for exporting to HTML:
The advantage of the first option is that your page will look almost exactly like the printed document. The advantage of the second option is that it will have much less junk HTML. The file size in the second option is significantly smaller, and it still retains most, if not all, of the look and feel of the original document.
In terms of accessibility, both options are acceptable, as long as the source file was created with structure and with alternative text for images and the document does not contain any data tables.
Information on this page provided with permission by WebAIM.