Accessibility Tip of the Week: Changing Default Heading Styles in Word or Google Docs

This week Robert Hardy, our district website accessibility specialist, shares about how to modify the default appearance of true headings in Microsoft Word and Google Docs. Please call Robert with any accessibility questions at Ext. 6105. He is more than happy to talk by phone or schedule a time to meet with you.

A staff member recently asked if it is possible to change the default styling of the true headings within Word and Google Docs. The answer is yes! Not only can the styling be altered within each document (as described in the MS Word and Google Docs quick-start guides), but the default styling can also be changed for future documents.

Google Docs

  1. Highlight the text you would like to make a heading.
  2. From the style drop-down in the top menu, select the desired heading level. In this example, it will be a Heading 1.Google Docs top menu. The Style menu drop-down is highlighted.
  3. Change the formatting of the heading text as you would like it to appear in this and future documents.
  4. Go back to the Style drop-down in the top menu and highlight the appropriate heading style. In the menu that appears, select ‘Update ‘Heading X’ to match’. This will update all text set to the same heading style within this document.Google Docs screenshot. The Style menu is activated, Heading 1 is activated, and Update Heading 1 to match is selected.
  5. Repeat the previous steps as desired for other heading styles.
  6. To save this styling as the default for future documents, return to the Style menu and highlight ‘Options’. Select ‘Save as my default styles.’Google Docs screenshot. The Style menu is activated, Options is activated, and Save as my default styles is highlighted.

Microsoft Word

  1. Right-click the appropriate heading style from the Home ribbon and select ‘Modify.’MS Word screenshot of the Home ribbon / Styles menu. Heading 1 has been right-clicked and Modify is highlighted.
  2. Within the Formatting section of the Modify Style menu, select the text properties you would like for this heading style.MS Word screenshot. The Modify Style menu is activated and the Formatting section is highlighted.
  3. Once the desired formatting has been achieved, check the ‘Add to template’ box. This ensures the heading style will be altered for future documents using the standard template.MS Word Screenshot. The Modify Style menu is activated and the checkbox Add to template has been checked and is highglighted.
  4. Click Ok.

As always, if you have any accessibility tips or questions, please feel free to reach out to the district’s Website Accessibility Specialist, Robert Hardy at extension 6105.

Accessibility Tip of the Week: Creating a Table of Contents in your Documents

Stack of binders

This week Robert Hardy, our district website accessibility specialist, shares about using true headings to create a table of contents. Please call Robert with any accessibility questions at Ext. 6105. He is more than happy to talk by phone or schedule a time to meet with you.

True headings are an essential aspect of accessible document design, allowing screen reader users to skim a document. Beyond enhancing accessibility, true headings also enable authors to insert an interactive, accurate and professional table of contents within their documents, creating a better user experience for every reader.

To insert a table of contents, authors must first use heading styles within their document. More information on using true headings can be found on the district’s Website Accessibility Resources page, but basically, you’ll want to highlight section titles and select the appropriate heading type from the top menu.

In Microsoft Word, heading styles may be located within the Home ribbon.

Microsoft Word screenshot. The Home ribbon is selected and the Heading styles menu is shown.

In Google Docs, heading styles may be located in the top menu bar.

Google Docs screenshot. The Heading menu is highlighted in the top menu.

Headings should not be used consecutively, but rather, should be nested within one another. For instance, a document title would be marked as a Heading 1, chapter titles would be marked as Heading 2 and subchapters would be marked as Heading 3.

Once headings have been used, inserting a table of contents is straightforward, both in Microsoft Word and in Google Docs.

Microsoft Word

  1. Place the cursor where you would like the table of contents to appear.
  2. Select the ‘References’ ribbon.
  3. Select ‘Table of Contents’ and pick a style of table of contents.

Customizing the table of contents

Tables of contents within Microsoft Word can be heavily customized, allowing for certain heading levels to be excluded, or specific styling to be applied. To add a customized table of contents, select ‘Custom Table of Contents’ from the Table of Contents menu (step 3 above).

Updating page numbers

If the document continues to be edited after inserting a table of contents, the page numbers within the table of contents may need to be updated. To do so, simply right-click the table of contents, select ‘Update Field’ and then select ‘Update page numbers only.’

Google Docs

  1. Place the cursor where you would like the table of contents to appear.
  2. Select ‘Insert’ from the top menu.
  3. Select ‘Table of Contents,’ and then pick from the available styles.

Customizing the table of contents

Unlike in Word, there are limited pre-built customizations available, but the table of contents can be edited like other text.

Updating page numbers

Like in Word, page numbers within the table of contents may need to be updated if the document is heavily edited. To update the page numbers, right-click the table of contents and select ‘Update table of contents.’

This added benefit of true headings is yet another example of how accessible design is truly universal design. By improving design for a portion of our audience, we inevitably improve it for everyone.

As always, if you have questions about true headings, or accessibility in general, please feel free to reach out to Robert Hardy (x6105), the district’s website accessibility specialist.

 

Accessibility Tip of the Week: Posting Documents Online

Laptop computer, paper with various pie charts and metrix charts, notepad, and hand with pen as if taking notes

This week Robert Hardy, our district website accessibility specialist, shares tips and resources for posting documents online.

When preparing to post content to SchoolMessenger or Schoology, it is important to consider the document format. From a broad perspective, a document may be posted as on-page content (HTML), or as an attachment.

On-Page Content (HTML)

Posting directly on the page is the simplest and most accessible way to publish content, and thus, is the preferred method. This is because HTML provides a programmatic accompaniment to the text, allowing all users to easily perceive and interact with the content. More complex elements, such as tables or images, require some minor additional markup, but text alone can simply be pasted onto the page. The district’s Website Accessibility Resources page offers quick-start guides on how to post accessible on-page content to both Schoology or SchoolMessenger.

Attachments

Beyond posting on-page content, a document may also be posted as an external attachment. PDFs are the preferred format for attachments, as a PDF contains a similar programmatic accompaniment as HTML, and is therefore highly accessible.

While other document types, such as Word or PowerPoint files may contain accessibility features, they should be exported to PDF to ensure they can be perceived by the largest possible audience. The district Website Accessibility Resources page offers guides on creating accessible documents in these software suites, as well as a guide on how to correctly export to PDF.

By posting documents as on-page content or accessible PDFs, we can ensure the largest possible segment of our community is able to fully enjoy our services. If working with unique file types not covered on the Website Accessibility Resources page, please reach out to Robert Hardy at Ext. 6105 in the Communications Department with questions.

Registration underway for Winter Accessibility Workshops

Workshop sign

Contained within the new Winter 2019 Professional Development Catalog are even more accessibility workshops for Olympia School District staff. Learn how to incorporate accessibility into your document workflow and efficiently create accessible content to post online. Staff are also welcome to bring their existing documents and brainstorm on how to create accessible versions for the web.

This winter’s workshops include:

Beyond workshops, the Olympia School District’s Accessibility Specialist, Robert Hardy (6105), wants to help you! Please reach out with any accessibility questions, or to schedule a time to meet one-on-one.

Accessibility Tip of the Week: Creating Accessible Content

Blank canvas hung on wall

This week Robert Hardy, our district website accessibility specialist, shares about creating accessible content. Please call Robert with any accessibility questions at Ext. 6105. He is more than happy to talk by phone or schedule a time to meet with you.

As a new teacher in the Olympia School District, you will have heard a lot about accessibility. Here is a summary of what accessibility is, how it pertains to you, and how you can ensure greater access for everyone in our community!

What is accessibility?

Accessibility means creating digital content that can be understood by our entire community, including those with visual, auditory, cognitive, or motor disabilities. In general, this means we want to create content that works with assistive technology, such as screen readers or screen magnifiers.

What does this mean for OSD staff?

Put simply, all content posted to the web, be it SchoolMessenger or Schoology, must be accessible. While this may initially sound daunting, the workflow for creating accessible content is relatively straightforward.

Creating Accessible Content

There are many aspects to creating accessible content, but there are two elements that come into play most frequently:

Headings

True headings consist of section titles, which enable users of assistive technology, such as screen readers, to skim through a document. While section titles may be created visually using bolding, larger font sizes or underlining, these do not provide a programmatic accompaniment to the text.

In most software, creating a true heading is as simple as highlighting a piece of text and selecting the appropriate heading style. Guides for each piece of software can be found on the district’s Website Accessibility Resources page.

Alternative Text

A screen reader operates by synthesizing text into speech. When it encounters an image, it requires a description of the image to read to the user. This description is called alternative text. Good alternative text describes both the content and the function of an image, ensuring the meaning of the image is conveyed to all users.

Alternative text can easily be added in most  software programs – steps can be found on the district’s Website Accessibility Resources page.

Publishing Content

Once content includes true headings and alternative text, the author should consider how they intend to publish their content. There are two options, either posting the content directly to a page, or including the document as an attached PDF.

On-page content

Content published directly onto a webpage, either in Schoology or on a SchoolMessenger teacher page, is natively quite accessible. Content written in Google Docs can easily be copied onto one of these platforms. Content from Microsoft Word will require the images to be added back in and alternative text to be added.

Attached PDFs

If an attachment is preferred, the document should be saved as a PDF and then posted to the web. Accessible PDFs can be created using either Word or Google Docs. Word users can simply go to File > Save As > and change their file format to PDF. Google Docs users will need to use Grackle to create an accessible PDF. Detailed steps for both software suites can be found in the blog post Exporting to PDF, or on the district’s Website Accessibility Resources page.

Additional Resources

If you have questions about creating accessible content, please feel free to reach out to Robert Hardy (x6105), the district’s website accessibility specialist. The district also offers regular accessibility workshops at the Knox 111 Administrative Center. More information about these workshops can be found in the Professional Development Catalog, located on the Staff Development page of the Intranet.

Accessibility Tip of the Week: Ensuring Sufficient Contrast

Colorful umbrella

This week Robert Hardy, our district website accessibility specialist, shares about how to ensure your content has a sufficiently high contrast ratio. Please call Robert with any accessibility questions at Ext. 6105. He is more than happy to talk by phone or schedule a time to meet with you.

When designing content, it is important to consider the perceived contrast of text or graphical elements against their background.  Text with a low contrast ratio can be difficult to read and may cause issues with eye strain or reader fatigue.

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), defines a minimum contrast ratio of 4.5:1 for regular text, and 3:1 for large text. For most textual content, black or dark gray text on a white background has a sufficiently high contrast ratio. For instance, the text within this blog has a ratio of 11:1, far surpassing the minimum threshold.

Care should be taken when changing font colors. Here are some examples of text color combinations and their ratios against a white background:

  • Low contrast gray text Ratio: 1.3:1
  • Sufficient contrast gray text Ratio: 4.6:1
  • Low contrast blue text Ratio: 1.9:1
  • Sufficient contrast blue text Ratio: 6.1:1
  • Sufficient contrast red text Ratio: 5.6:1

Additional care should be taken when altering background colors. Generally, including a background of the same color type will create contrast issues and should be avoided. Here are some examples of low contrast content using the sufficiently contrasted colors from above:

  • Low contrast gray text on a gray background text Ratio: 2.1:1
  • Low contrast blue text on blue background Ratio: 2.6:1
  • Low contrast red text on red background Ratio: 1.5:1

When designing graphical content, such as flyers or website layouts, it can be challenging to ensure sufficient contrast when placing text over an image. To do so, you can use design elements such as text shadows or text outlines, as we have done on our district page.

White text over an image on the OSD website. The text has a gray outline applied to it, ensuring readability.

By including a text outline, we are able to display white text over a complex, and occasionally white background.

Low contrast text is generally apparent to a content author, but these tools can help to check the contrast ratios of your content:

  • Colour Contrast Analyser – Works for both Mac and Windows and can check contrast across multiple applications.
  • Color Contrast Analyzer – Google Chrome extension that visually displays the perceived contrast of content. Useful for designing web content.

If you have questions about using these tools or ensuring the contrast of your content is sufficient, please feel free to reach out to Robert Hardy (6105), the district’s Website Accessibility Specialist.

Accessibility Tip of the Week: Exporting to PDF

Container ship being loadedThis week Robert Hardy, our district website accessibility specialist, shares about exporting documents to PDF. Please call Robert with any accessibility questions at Ext. 6105. He is more than happy to talk by phone or schedule a time to meet with you.

When publishing attachments to the web, it is recommended to use the PDF file type. PDFs are preferred as they do not place a burden on the end-user to own a specific software suite, they retain formatting across devices and they contain many built-in accessibility features.

Documents are generally created within an authoring tool such as Microsoft Word or Google Docs and then exported to PDF. Microsoft Office users can export an accessible PDF by simply changing the document’s file type while saving. Google Docs users can use Grackle to generate accessible PDFs.

Whatever the authoring tool, it is recommended to keep the original document available in case of future revisions. Revising a Word or Docs document is significantly easier than revising a PDF.

Microsoft Office Users – Saving as PDF

  1. Create an accessible document in Word or PowerPoint. Guides for these software suites can be found on the district’s Website Accessibility Resources page.
  2. Go to File > Save As.
  3. At the bottom of the Save As menu, select the File Format field.
  4. Select PDF.
  5. If given the option, select “Best for electronic distribution.”
  6. Click save.

Google Docs Users – Saving as PDF

Google Docs users are encouraged to install and use Grackle. Grackle acts as both an accessibility checker and a means for exporting accessible PDFs.

To install Grackle:

  1. Open a Google Docs document.
  2. Go to Add-ons > Get Add-ons.
  3. Search for ‘Grackle Docs,’ and then select Grackle Docs.
  4. Select Install.

To Run Grackle:

  1. In your Google Docs document, go to Add-ons > Grackle Docs > Launch.
  2. Grackle will open on the right side of the screen. Accessibility errors should be corrected as appropriate. A guide covering Google Docs accessibility and Grackle errors can be found on the district’s Website Accessibility Resources page.
  3. Select Re-Check to rescan your document for issues as necessary.

Exporting a PDF from Grackle:

  1. Once all accessibility checks are complete, select Export to PDF.
  2. On the Progress Monitor menu, leave the settings as the defaults and select Start. An email will be sent to you containing your accessible PDF.

If you have any questions about these processes, or accessibility in general, feel free to reach out to Robert Hardy (x6105) for assistance.