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document accessibility

Web accessibility is a reasonably familiar topic for IAs but document accessibility is also important. Here’s some considerations for your typical Word documents.

To support screen magnification and other adjustments:

  • don’t set the text to black. choose automatic (if you set the text to black and the person reading has the colours reversed for ease of reading then all of your text will disappear)
  • use a simple clear font e.g. Ariel
  • avoid italics
  • use left aligned text including headings (screen magnification users often don’t realise there is content that is centred or right aligned)
  • don’t use other colours for fonts (the RNIB training specifically asks us not to use fancy colours like purple. I don’t think it was particularly aimed at me)
  • use 14 point text as the standard font size (this seems huge to me, but this is our recommended standard as meeting the needs of most readers)

Screen readers with speech output

  • use the correct Word styles
  • use heading hierarchies to communicate the structure of the document

You’ll note the advice is less detailed for screen readers. This mirrors my experience with web design in the RNIB. Outside the RNIB most accessibility conversations I heard focused on the challenge of designing for screenreaders but the challenges are much greater in designing for both magnification users and fully sighted users at the same time.

Written by Karen

September 25th, 2009 at 6:57 am

Posted in accessibility