Accessible Patterns – part 2

It’s important to understand how different people might access your patterns.  As I mentioned in a previous post, accessibility is mainly concerned with the digital structure of patterns and other documents.  If a document is created using microsoft Word or a similar free version, then they should have their headings designated using the Styles menu on the Home ribbon

Styles options on the Home Ribbon in MS Word

There is a good reason for this.  If a user needs to access your document using Word then they will most likely need to be able to see how it has been constructed. 

Showing the navigation pane provides an interactive contents panel.

If you create a document in this way, it automatically creates an interactive contents panel that you can access by clicking the View Ribbon and then choosing the ‘Navigation’ option.

The video below shows how using headings can be so helpful.  In addition to being able to move section around, it also gives a quick contents list that is easy to scan, an important option for someone in a hurry, or who struggles to read large blocks of text or someone who uses a screen reader. 

Using Headings in Word

Screen Readers

A screen reader does just what it says – it reads out everything on the screen. This means not just the text or the label on a button but all the other important bits of information that are included in a web page or any form of digital content. It is therefore very important to enable screen reader access by ensuring that any digital content is well constructed. If your pattern or any other document is created using Word and headings as described, then you can be safe in the knowledge that the subsequent pdf document created from Word will have a logical structure. Using other third party bits of software can create documents that have a totally different reading order from the one that is visible.

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