Transcript of website accessiblity for documents video
Let’s begin by improving the document for easier reading and we’ll start with reducing the topics where possible.
Here’s a first draft of a document on how to set up a construction site with COVID-19 precautions. It’s rather wordy and currently nearly grade level 13 for reading.
You can check the reading level of your document by using the spelling and grammar feature.
You may need to activate the reading level feature by going to your Word program’s options.
At this point, the document mentions a template for hiring a site security officer, and while that may seem relevant, it’s a separate task that supports site safety. Also, toward the end the document mentions how to map a site using a drone. That could be helpful information, but that is separate from instructions focused on safety precautions. Either of these resources can be put in another place, so let’s remove them.
Now, let’s shorten sentences and break them up a bit.
Here are two versions of the document side by side. The left has longer sentences and the right is a version with sentences shortened. For example, the first single sentence is about how this is a big picture framework and modifying as need. It’s now broken into two over in the document on the right. (pause) Sometimes, breaking up a sentence can add words, such as here when it starts talking about designating a site security office. (pause) Sometimes, it’s only about simplifying, such as here where it talks about developing a site map. Just breaking up longer sentences and making them shorter has dropped the reading level to nearly 10th grade level.
Lastly, for easier reading level, let’s address word choice or phrasing.
So here, the phrase “This competent person should have a comprehensive understanding of COVID-19 exposure potential” can be changed to “This person should have a comprehensive understanding of how COVID-19 can spread”. While word count didn’t change, it reduced the number of syllables, from 28 syllables to 22 syllables. In other words, because the words I used are simpler to pronounce, they’re faster to read regardless of word count.
Now, let’s look at how we can make the document more friendly for screen readers and start with adding headings.
The ribbon at the top of Word includes styles, such as different levels of headings. For the beginning of this text, we will have to add a new heading. However, we already have some sentences that will make great headings, so for those, all we have to do is separate them from the paragraphs and apply the styles.
Next, we have some places where we can create a kind of list by adding line breaks.
After that, we can rewrite our links, so they can be separate from the paragraphs.
Lastly, let’s add some images and be sure to include alternative text.
You can use the format picture feature in Word to add alternative text.
The text I’m adding here using the Format Picture menu is a literal description saying there are six different colored hats hanging on a wall.
I’m also adding this snippet of a site map that shows hand sanitizer is placed near the break room and neighboring restrooms.
Now this document appears more like an accessible web page than it did in the beginning. It’s reading level is now at grade level 9, which is much better than when we started. Photos and graphics don’t necessarily affect the reading level, but we know that they can help people better understand what we are trying to say when the right imagery supports the message.
Lastly, we need to reconsider how color is used and review our images. As a reminder, we want to use fewer colors, ensure the colors we use have higher contrast and lastly, add patterns, symbols or other cues that may ensure our visual message is clear regardless of color vision.
The photo of the many hard hats is very colorful and may only be vaguely relevant to our message, so let’s replace it.
Now we have an image that uses fewer high contrast colors and since it’s showing a single silhouette it better matches what the document says about a single site security officer.
The site map snippet uses too many colors. Even though it also uses text, let’s make sure that text is readable by changing things.
Now, the site map snippet has a single darker color to represent each object while text labels inside the darker color areas are white and will contrast well.
Now you’ll be able to ensure your documents support easier reading by staying focused with fewer topics, reducing sentences and using familiar words. You’ll also be able to write for screen readers by adding headings, using line beaks for lists, separating link text and adding effective alternative text for images. You’ll also be more careful with color, by choosing fewer colors with higher contrast and adding patterns textures or symbols to accommodate different types of color vision.