Workshops offered for staff to learn how to make accessible content to post online

Workshop sign

This year the Communications Department will offer a wealth of training opportunities focused on creating accessible content. Learn how to incorporate accessibility into your document workflow and efficiently create accessible content to post online.

In addition to topic specific workshops, the Communications and Community Relations Department is also excited to offer a new open workshop on accessibility. Do you have questions about creating accessible flyers, or do you have a unique document workflow? Attendees are invited to bring these and other questions to discuss and brainstorm.

More information and links for registration can be found in the Fall 2019 PD Catalog, or at the links below:

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.  Have a great year!

Accessibility Tip of the Week: Make documents POUR

Tea being pouredThis week Robert Hardy, our district website accessibility specialist, shares about making documents POUR. 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 considering the accessibility of a document or piece of content, it can be easy to focus on the technical details. Are the alt tags included? Is this form fillable? What is lost in this approach is the understanding of the end user and how they will interact with the content.

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) provide a framework for document review that is less technically focused, and instead focuses on the experience of the end user. This framework can be helpful when considering the life cycle of a document and deciding upon the best route toward accessibility compliance.

The framework is called POUR. Documents must be:

  • Perceivable – Can the document be easily perceived? Are there contrast issues, or is text locked in an image?
  • Operable – Are interactive elements set up in a way that enables interaction? For most text documents, this is not a concern, but it does arise when creating forms or designing websites. Interactive elements must be operable with both a keyboard and a mouse.
  • Understandable – Is the language as clear and concise as possible? Consider the intent of your message and remove additional clutter.
  • Robust – Can the content be accessed across a wide range of devices? PDFs are a robust document solution for desktop and mobile devices. The SchoolMessenger and Schoology platforms have also been designed to be robust.

Taken together, these principles provide a non-technical framework with which to consider your content.

For additional accessibility tips, consider attending an upcoming accessibility workshop. A complete list of summer workshops is available in the Summer 2019 Professional Development Catalog. In the meantime, if you have questions or tips regarding accessibility, please reach out to Robert Hardy, the school district’s website accessibility specialist, at extension 6105.

Accessibility Tip of the Week: Be mindful of images containing text

Princeton open house flyer. All event details, including location, attendees and time are included within the image.This week Robert Hardy, our district website accessibility specialist, shares about being mindful of images containing text. 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 producing content for the web, it is important to be mindful of images containing text, such as event flyers. These images can present a challenge for accessibility, as the text contained within them is not ‘true text’, but is actually part of a rendered image. This practice effectively locks away much of the content for those who rely on assistive technology such as screen magnifiers or screen readers.

To test if your content is locked away in an image, try selecting the text with your mouse or keyboard. If you cannot select it, it is locked away and must be presented in an alternative format.

For shorter content, adding the text to the alternative text tag for the image should be sufficient. Steps on creating these tags are included on the Website Accessibility Resources page.

While this may work well for short pieces of content, longer documents, such as the flyer below, require more space than an alternative text tag would allow. In these cases, the relevant content should be placed in the copy alongside the image.

This practice not only improves the accessibility of your document, but also has the added benefit of improving the likelihood of your content appearing in search engines such as Google. Search engines are, after all, advanced screen readers!

As always, if you have any accessibility tips or questions, please reach out to Robert Hardy (6105).

Accessibility Tip of the Week: Copying and pasting accessible content

A person typng on a laptop

This week Robert Hardy, our district website accessibility specialist, shares about copying and pasting accessible content into web tools such as SchoolMessenger and Schoology. 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.

Rather than typing directly into our web tools, many of us create web content using Microsoft Word or Google Docs. This workflow simplifies editing the content, but some formatting can be lost when migrating the content to the web. This is a particular concern in regards to accessibility. Will the accessibility work performed within Microsoft Word or Google Docs carry over to SchoolMessenger or Schoology?

Thankfully, much of the formatting is preserved. The Communications Department has performed some tests to see which elements are preserved across each system. We tested for four elements:

  • Heading styles: Will the heading styles applied in Microsoft Word or Google Docs carry over with the text?
  • Lists: Will correct list formatting carry over when copying and pasting?
  • Images and their alternative text: Will images carry over when copied and pasted as part of a document? Will the alternative text that’s been applied within the document also carry over?
  • Tables and table headings: Will true tables be preserved? Will the table row and column header styles also carry over?

Here are the results:

Pasting into Schoology

From Microsoft Word

  • Heading styles carried over.
  • List styles were broken.
  • Images don’t carry over, meaning the image alt tag also doesn’t.
  • Table carries over, but row and column heading styles are lost.

From Google Docs

  • Heading styles carried over.
  • List styles carried over.
  • Image alt tag carried over.
  • Table carries over, but like Word, table headings are lost.

Pasting into SchoolMessenger (teacher pages)

From Microsoft Word

Note: When pasting into SchoolMessenger from Microsoft Word, the user is presented with the option to clean the formatting. In these tests, the formatting was cleaned.

  • Heading styles carried over.
  • List styles carried over without formatting issues.
  • Image doesn’t carry over, but the alt tag does. A broken image icon with the correct alt tag is displayed.
  • Table carries over, but row and column heading styles are lost.

From Google Docs

  • Heading styles carried over.
  • List tagging carried over, but formatting is messy (large spacing).
  • Image carries over with alt tag.
  • Table carried over, but row and column heading styles are lost.

While these tests provide a foundational understanding of what formatting is preserved, content creators should verify these results are consistent on their own systems. The Website Accessibility Resources page has tips on applying accessible formatting across a range of software services, including Schoology and SchoolMessenger.

As always, if you have questions or tips regarding accessibility, please reach out to Robert Hardy  at extension 6105.

Accessibility Tip of the Week: Alt Tags – “Title” or “Description” Field?

This week Robert Hardy, our district website accessibility specialist, shares about choosing the correct field when adding alternative text to a document. 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 adding alternative text to a document within Google Docs or Microsoft Word, users are presented with both a Title and a Description field. This can create confusion for the author as they may unsure which field to populate.

Google Docs and Microsoft Word alternative text screens. Both screens have a Title and a Description field.For both Google Docs and Microsoft Word, the correct field is the Description field. Screen readers rarely access the Title field, rendering it largely useless.

Remember to consider both the content and the function of the image when deciding on alternative text. What information would be missing if the image was removed? Be sure to include that in the alternative text.

For more accessibility tips for Microsoft Word, Google Docs and other software suites, visit the district’s Website Accessibility Resources page.  If you have questions or tips regarding creating accessible documents, please reach out to Robert Hardy at extension 6105.

Accessibility Tip of the Week: Adding a title to a document

BookshelfThis week Robert Hardy, our district website accessibility specialist, shares about adding a title to a document. 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 common accessibility error in PDFs is a lack of a title tag. Screen reader users use title tags and other metadata much like the cover of a book – to get an understanding of a document at a glance.

This lack of a title tag is a particularly common occurrence because it is not flagged as an error in Microsoft’s accessibility checker.

That being said, adding a title is relatively straightforward and can become a regular step in an efficient workflow.

To add the title in Word before converting the document to PDF:

  • Mac users: File > Properties > Summary > Title
  • Windows users: File > Info > Title (on the right side of the screen, beneath Properties)

Users of Acrobat Pro may edit the title after converting to PDF, but revising it in Word is preferable as it saves an additional step and the source document can be reused. To revise the title in Acrobat Pro, go to File > Properties > Description > Title.

To learn more about creating accessible documents, please attend an accessibility workshop at the Knox Administrative Center. Attendees are invited to bring their own documents and work toward efficient accessible workflows. Upcoming workshop schedules may be found in the Spring Professional Development Catalog.

Accessibility Tip of the Week: Creating true lists

Empty to-do list

This week Robert Hardy, our district website accessibility specialist, shares about how to create true lists in a digital document. 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.

Underlying each digital document is a programmatic structure that is critical for screen reader users. If elements such as lists are only created visually, without using the appropriate tools, this programmatic structure becomes inaccurate, creating confusion for a screen reader user.

The programmatic accompaniment is particularly important when it comes to lists, as the list would otherwise appear as a collection of very short paragraphs. There are two list types available to content authors: unordered and ordered lists. An unordered, or bulleted list, is the most common, and can be used in a wide variety of applications such as shopping or to-do lists. An ordered list uses numbers rather than bullet points and is frequently used to describe the steps in a process.

Both list types can be created easily within Microsoft Office, Google Docs or other software suites. Simply select either the bulleted or numbered list option from the main ribbon:

Word-Lists

By selecting these options, content authors ensure their documents have the correct programmatic accompaniment and can be understood by everyone in the community.

For tips on providing the correct programmatic accompaniment for headings, see the blog post The Increased Efficiency of True Headings, or attend the Headings workshop at Knox on April 24, 2019. If you have any accessibility questions or tips in the meantime, please reach out to Robert Hardy at extension 6105.