The purpose of this module is to raise awareness about the importance of ensuring that your electronic information is accessible to screen-reading software designed for people with a visual impairment who are unable to see the screen or use a mouse or other pointing device. Screen-reading software allows people who cannot see the screen to access and produce written information. It is a type of assistive technology – a term used to describe hardware and software that provides alternative ways of accessing electronic information. Screen-reading software does not rely on the external appearance of a document or website but on its internal structure. We call this Hidden Accessibility.
When you have completed this module, you will have an understanding of
- Why structure is important in achieving electronic accessibility.
- Why you should use the Styles function in your computer applications to create Headings. The Styles function allows you to decide on the overall appearance and layout of a document. Headings are visual markers to show the beginning new sections and sub-sections in a document.
- Adding Meta-information. Meta-information is extra but unseen information about a document, for example keywords. During internet searches screen-reading software can use meta-information to help users decide if documents are relevant. Meta-information is extra but unseen information about a document, for example keywords. During internet searches screen-reading software can use meta-information to help users decide if documents are relevant.
- Making information in non-text elements available to people who use screen-reading software. Non-text elements: images (photographs, drawings, symbols), charts and video clips are all examples of non-text elements.
- Making tabular information accessible.
It is recommended that you should be aware of the SAIF Guidelines about choice of font, point size, layout and language before starting this module. You can find out more about these by completing SAIF Accessible Information Awareness elearning module or downloading SAIF’s publication “Making Your Written Information Accessible” from the SAIF Website.
You may like to have a Word document open to try out some of the points covered. We have used examples from Microsoft Word 2007. If you are using either MS Word 2003 or 2010 you can download our comparison table:
If you are using a different package you will find that while the principles are the same the methods might vary. Your User Manual should provide full instructions.
We anticipate the total module will take around an hour to complete. You will be invited to download our document “Sources of further information” once you have clicked the confirmation button at the end of the module.