Register for upcoming accessibility workshops

Workshop sign

New accessibility workshops for Olympia School District staff have been posted on pdEnroller. 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.

New and upcoming 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: The increased efficiency of true headings

This week Robert Hardy, our district website accessibility specialist, shares about the increased efficiency of true headings in documents.

Outside of enhancing access to content, one of the benefits of creating accessible documents is the greater control it gives to the document author.

Many Word and Docs users are self-taught, and as such, learned to create titles and headings by enlarging the font, changing the alignment, bolding the text, and occasionally underlining it. This process is cumbersome at best, requiring each heading to be styled individually. It also doesn’t provide an accompanying programmatic markup for the software. Is the content bolded for emphasis, or is it bolded as a title? Curious readers want to know.

By creating true headings in the accessible way, using the heading styles in Word or Google Docs, the efficiency of the workflow is greatly improved. Rather than the process described above, the author can simply highlight the text and pick a heading style. This provides both a visual and programmatically defined heading.

Microsoft Word screenshot - heading styles

If the author decides to change the visual layout of their headings down the line, changes can be made en masse, rather than to each heading individually. By changing the styling of just one heading, going to the Headings Styles Pane, right clicking and selecting “Update Heading X to Match Selection”, each instance of that heading type will be updated. This is not only much more efficient, but also ensures consistency throughout a document.

Microsoft Word screenshot - heading styles menu. A heading style is right-clicked and 'Update Heading 1 to Match Selection' is highlighted.

In Microsoft Word, true headings can also be used to create a table of contents. This is particularly helpful for longer documents. Simply go to the References ribbon and select the Table of Contents button. A fully functional table of contents based on the heading structure will be inserted.

Microsoft Word screenshot. The References ribbon is active and Table of Contents is highlighted.

These types of efficiency gains are common across different software suites, and are a pleasant example of the benefits of designing our content for the broadest audience possible.

If you have questions about true headings, or other aspects of accessibility, please feel free to reach out to Robert Hardy (x6105), the district’s website accessibility specialist.

Accessibility Tip of the Week: Adding Alt Text in Microsoft Office and Google Docs

Blank canvas hung on wall

This week Robert Hardy, our district website accessibility specialist, shares about adding alternative text in Microsoft Office 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 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.

Effective alternative text describes both the content and the function of an image, ensuring the meaning of the image is conveyed to all users. A good way to approach writing alternative text is to consider what information would be left out if the image was missing.

Microsoft Office

Newer versions of Microsoft Office allow alt text to be added by right-clicking an image and selecting “Alt Text.” Both a Title and a Description field will be available – filling in just the Description field is sufficient as most screen readers ignore the Title field.

To add alternative text in an older version of Microsoft Office:
Microsoft Word Format Picture Menu. The Size and Properties tab is selected, and the Alt Text option is expanded. The Description field is highlighted.

  1. Right-click the image and select Format Picture.
  2. Select the Size and Properties icon.
  3. Expand the Alt Text option.
  4. Enter alternative text into the Description field.

Google Docs

Google Docs screenshot. The Alt Text menu is displayed and the Description field is highlighted.

  1. Right-click the image and select Alt Text.
  2. Enter alternative text into the Description field.

Including alternative text is essential to creating accessible content. Guides on including alternative text in your other content may be found on the district’s Website Accessibility Resources page.

If you have questions about alternative text, or other aspects of accessibility, please feel free to reach out to Robert Hardy (x6105), the district’s website accessibility specialist.

Accessibility Tip of the Week: Microsoft Office Accessibility Checker

Person appears to be ready to mark a checklist of items. Next to person doing this is a laptop computer.

This week Robert Hardy, our district website accessibility specialist, shares about the Accessibility Checker in Microsoft Office.

The Accessibility Checker within Microsoft Office is a powerful tool that can be used as a final step in document creation. The steps involved in running the Accessibility Checker differ depending on your operating system, but are quite straightforward. Please note these steps are the same for both Word & PowerPoint.

  • Mac– Go to the Review ribbon and select “Check Accessibility.
  • Windows– Go to the File menu and under Info, select “Check for Issues” and then “Check Accessibility.”

The Accessibility Checker will open on the right side of the screen and will contain a list of issues located within the document. The quick-start guides located on the district’s Website Accessibility Resources page cover each of these errors and how to resolve them.

When working with older Word documents, users may receive the error “Cannot check the current file type for accessibility issues.” To resolve this error, go to File & Save As. In the Save As window, select the File Type option and select “Word Document (.docx).” The Accessibility Checker should now be able to run without errors.

Accessible content from Microsoft Word documents can either be copied and pasted directly onto a SchoolMessenger or Schoology page, or exported as an accessible PDF.

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: 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.