Published: 17 December

Everyday Documents

This is the first in a series of posts about making documents accessible. If you use a computer, you probably use some kind of Office software too. Microsoft, Google and Apple all have programmes that you can use to create documents. You might only create these documents for personal use, but most people send them to other people.

In this series, I will give you some tips on how to make your documents accessible. I will also show you some free tools that you might find helpful when reading and writing documents.

I could look at each different type of document and show you how to make it accessible for all but you can look at the WCAG pages for this. Instead, I will write the posts to show how different personas might work and interact with documents. This is the plan:

1. I can't use a mouse

If you find it easy to use a mouse, you might wonder how you would manage without it. Is it possible to create and format documents without using a mouse? How could you do it using only the keyboard? I will show you how to use Microsoft Office without a mouse, using just a keyboard.

What if you couldn't use the keyboard either? I will show you how voice control software works. Some of these tools come with your computer. These are free. If you need voice control software all the time, you might decide to buy one with more features.

2. I find reading difficult

The average reading age in the UK is age nine. There are many reasons why you might find reading difficult. Here are some possibilities:

You should write in plain English to make it easier for people to read. There are free tools you can use to check this. I will show you some of these and explain how to write content that is easy to read.

3. I find writing difficult

Some of the reasons why people may find reading difficult also apply to writing. I will separate out reading and writing though, because the tools that you use to help are different. When I talk about writing, I actually mean typing and producing content.

You might struggle with ideas of what to write or it might be putting your ideas into words. Some people find it difficult to organise their ideas. Others know what to write but find spelling, punctuation and grammar difficult. I will share some ideas and tools that might help with these difficulties.

4. I can't see very well

If you have low vision, you could try using a magnifier. Whether you use a magnifier or not, if the text is clear and spaced well, it is easier to read. I will show you how to set text so that it is clearer for people with low vision to see. I will also show you some tools that you can use to enhance size, colour and the pointer/cursor.

5. I am blind

Some people assume that blind people can't use a computer at all. This is not true! Blind people can do most things that sighted people can do. They just do it in a different way. I will show you how screen readers work and how to make your documents easier to read with a screen reader.