Document Accessibility – April 2023

Event write up by Hanneke ter Veen-Hockney, regular attendee

“If you don’t design for accessibility, it’s like saying to every fifth person who walks in your door, ‘I don’t really want your business.’”*

That’s 20% of your (potential) clients, but also of your (potential) employees. And that’s why, Julia Satov of Litera reminded us, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is so important. Making your documents, but also presentations, elearning, website, signage, and video conferences accessible from the outset ensures your clients and employee talent always feel welcome (and not just after they’ve had to ask for adjustments).

Julia was very honest and inspirational in saying that her organisation is not there yet, but their aspiration is to make their products and workplace accessible. By learning about the needs of their clients and employees. By putting accessibility at the forefront. Events like this one will hopefully help us all to learn about and normalise accessibility.

There is so much to learn on the topic. A list of all the knowledge and suggestions from the meeting would be a useful start. Here are some I remember:

  • Richard MacDougall mentioned he recently learned to add Alt text descriptions to any images for people with vision impairments.
  • The panel gave a brief demonstration of the Accessibility Checker in Microsoft PowerPoint and Word (on the Review tab > Accessibility), and Adobe Acrobat.
  • Julia suggested listing what accessible resources your organisation has.
  • The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) give helpful advice on accessible websites.
  • And my personal favourite: Accessibility made Easy (you can also follow them on LinkedIn).

Thankfully, accessibility is becoming easier with software providers like Microsoft and Adobe building it into their products. There is also a lot we can do to bake accessibility into our document templates and processes, like enabling subtitles in Zoom meetings. And as a trainer, I can build (checking for) accessibility into my PowerPoint, Word and house style sessions.

What could you do to welcome the 20%?

*quote by Bert Floyd, Team Lead of Assistive Technologies TD Bank, Canada, from the DEG panel presentation

Hanneke ter Veen-Hockney
Senior IT Training Consultant
iTrain Legal

Hanneke ter Veen-Hockney

About Hanneke

Hanneke is a Senior IT Training Consultant for iTrain Legal, and a regular attendee of Document Excellence Group events.  We love it when she joins us as she is always ready to contribute her knowledge and experiences in discussions.