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How to Create Accessible Documents

Earlier this month, Cory wrote about the Microsoft Office Accessibility Checker, a simple software tool that allows you to check your documents automatically for potential accessibility problems. Essentially, accessible design is what allows people with disabilities–as well as people without–to be able to access your content.

Creating accessible documents is not hard, but you have to know what you’re doing. For one thing, it’s important to consider the perspectives of the various people who might be using your document. If you’re interested in learning the nuts and bolts of how to create such documents, a number of helpful tutorials have been created by WebAIM (Web Accessibility In Mind), a non-profit at Utah State University, part of their Center for Persons with Disabilities.

  • How to create accessible Microsoft Word documents: “This article will cover several things that you can do to make web content created in Word more accessible.”
  • How to create accessible OpenOffice.org documents: “OpenOffice.org is a free, open source office suite, often compared to Microsoft (MS) Office. Although it is not as popular as Microsoft Office, it provides almost all the features your average user will use in an Office Suite and even some features not available in Microsoft Office. Whether documents are going to be accessed in Writer or exported to a more common format, there are several things you can do to increase the native accessibility of documents in OOo Writer.”
  • How to create accessible PDF documents: “PDF files are not typically created in Acrobat. They are usually created in another program and converted to PDF. There are dozens or probably hundreds of programs that can create PDF files, but very few of them produce tagged PDF files. If you are using Microsoft Word or PowerPoint, OpenOffice.org Writer, or Adobe tools such as InDesign, you can often create accessible, tagged PDF files without opening Acrobat.”
  • How to create accessible PowerPoint files:”Microsoft PowerPoint is one of the most popular tools for creating slide show presentations. It is often used to organize thoughts for a meeting or lesson, to present key points in a live presentation, and even to create handouts. This article outlines how to can make PowerPoint files more accessible on the web.”
  • How to create accessible Web content using . . .

How about you? Do you have any recommendations for user-friendly tutorials about creating accessible documents? Have you found any software particularly helpful for creating–or evaluating–such documents? Let us hear from you in the comments!

[Image created using a Creative Commons-licensed flickr photo by Ivan Walsh]

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