Accessibility Defined

Food For Thought

Imagine surfing the Internet checking, email and opening attachments, where every message received, document opened and page arrived at, was presented through a screen reader or braille printer.  If you had to navigate your computer without a monitor, how would you know what was in each file? How would you visualize each image?  Over a million visually impaired users do this every day and count on us to create accessible digital work, so our intended message is clear and can be easily decoded through assistive tools. 

Did you know that the United States Rehabilitation Act of 1973 requires federal agencies’ to make all of their electronic and information technology accessible?

It is important that we do our part when we create content so that it is useful for users with special needs and abilities.

In order to avoid discriminating on the basis of disability, check out tools and how-to for tweaking the  files you distribute, so that they are accessible. Take it upon yourself to help make a difference in some user's experience with your digital interaction with them today.  Help users save time by having your documents and web pages easily accessible to everyone.

What is Accessibility?

According to Wikipedia, “an accessible information technology system is one that can be operated in a variety of ways and does not rely on a single sense or ability of the user. For example, a system that provides output only in visual format may not be accessible to people with visual impairments, and a system that provides output only in audio format may not be accessible to people who are deaf or hard of hearing. “

Accessibility is making your data understandable by all users, considering users with special needs and abilities such as:

  • Blind users who use screen reader software to access textual and visual content;
  • Low-vision users who zoom in on their browsers to substantially enlarge the default text size and may also set the browser to “no style” view, removing all CSS styling and leaving the remaining text and graphics to increase readability of enlarged text;
  • Colorblind users who may have trouble seeing image content or distinguishing among text colors.
  • Low-tech users who may not have viewing software or a recent browser version and who are not very comfortable or adept at navigating websites.
  • Developmentally disabled users who have trouble concentrating for extended periods of time or comprehending complex language.
  • Low-mobility users who may only use keyboard controls.

What is a Screen Reader

A screen reader is a program  that interprets content (often from a computer screen)  through an audio text-to-speech synthesizer, it is an auditory interface that uses sound icons, and/or a Braille output device.

Related Pages

Ways to Make a Document Accessible

Create an Accessible Document in Word

Convert Word Documents to PDF

Convert a Non-Accessible PDF

Resources for Accessibility

Test Documents for Accessibility

Web Page Accessibility