Resources

Resources for Accessible Document Design

Here is a list of some resources I’ve come across over the years that I personally feel do a good job of explaining document accessibility. All the downloads and resources listed here are free!

Microsoft Word:

How-to Guides: Introduction

How-to Guides: Intermediate

Plugins/Add-ons

  • Accessibility Ribbon for Word:David Berman offers a free/donation-based ribbon for Word (2010+) for PC. The ribbon puts the accessibility features of Word in a single place, simplifying the workflow for accessible document creation and troubleshooting.

Adobe Acrobat:

How-to Guides: Introduction

How-to Guides: Intermediate

  • PDF Techniques: instruction on creating PDFs that comply with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 from W3C, the body responsible for WCAG referenced in the AODA.

LinkedIn Learning

LinkedIn Learning is free through your local library, such as through the Toronto Public Library portal or OCAD University’s portal. Their courses include working files so you can follow along with the instructor during the video. Upon completion, you can add a Certificate of Completion to your LinkedIn Profile.

  • Creating Accessible PDFs: Online workshop on creating accessible PDFs from Microsoft Office (Word, PowerPoint) and InDesign using Adobe Acrobat by industry expert Chad Chelius
  • Advanced Accessible PDFs: Chad Chelius’ online tutorial on managing complex layouts, creating PDF forms, PDF/UA compliance, and complex tables with Acrobat.

Troubleshooting Help

  • PDF Accessibility Facebook Group: helpful and responsive community for troubleshooting PDFs in Adobe Acrobat. The admins are Dax Castro and Chad Chelius.
  • Adobe’s user forums: an excellent source for information on accessibility. If you are having an issue, chances are someone else has too – and solved it!
  • Overview of PDF Tags: list of tags you may find in a PDF and what they mean

Adobe InDesign:

How-to Guides: Introduction

How-to Guides: Intermediate

LinkedIn Learning

LinkedIn Learning (formally Lynda.com) is free through most local libraries. For example, through the Toronto Public Library portal. Their courses include working files so you can follow along with the instructor during the video for an optimal learning experience! Upon completion, you can add a Certificate of Completion to your LinkedIn Profile if you’d like.

  • Creating Accessible PDFs: Online workshop on creating accessible PDFs from Microsoft Office (Word, PowerPoint) and InDesign using Adobe Acrobat by industry expert Chad Chelius

Troubleshooting Help

  • InDesign Secrets Facebook Group: helpful and responsive community for InDesign users. The admins are Anne-Marie Concepcion, Erica Gamet, and David Blatner, who are the brains behind LinkedIn Learning’s InDesign talks and CreativePro.
  • PDF Accessibility Facebook Group: helpful and responsive community for troubleshooting PDFs in Adobe Acrobat. The admins are Dax Castro and Chad Chelius.
  • Adobe’s user forums: excellent source for information on accessibility. If you are having an issue, chances are someone else has too – and solved it!

Scripts:

Scripts are incredibly useful for automating tasks in InDesign. If Scripts are new to you, I recommend this article: How to install scripts in InDesign.

  • Check document for accessibility: Script to check an InDesign document for accessibility. It prompts the user for a document title, maps paragraph styles to PDF tags, checks images for ALT text, and more. It is very useful for proofing your work.
  • ApplyALTfromXMP: If you are working on large documents with many images that keep being changed or updated, I recommend using this script (or to create an Object Style that does the same thing). It will take the metadata stored in an image and apply it as ALT text across all images in your document.
  • Remove shared hyperlinks: By default, InDesign makes pasted links ‘shared’ which can create havoc on a PDF. This scripts undoes that for you.

Accessible ePubs from InDesign

Fundamentals of Graphic Design

Guides for Designers

WebAIM Articles

Writing

ALT Text:

Content

Document Testing

Contrast & Colour Checkers

  • Colour Contrast Analyser:Desktop app for testing colour for Mac and PC. It allows you to test anything on your screen for WCAG colour contrast compliance. This app is very easy to install and use. I highly recommend using this throughout the design process.
  • Color Safe:Input your background colour into this online tool and it will generate WCAG compliant colour palettes for you.
  • Sim Daltonism:This Mac application gives you an idea of what images and colour combinations look like through the eyes of people with colour blindness.
  • Tanaguru Contrast-Finder:Recommends colours when the colour combination fails. This is handy when you’re stuck on what colour to try when your original selection fails.

NVDA:

  • NonVisual Desktop Access (NVDA): Free/donation screen reader for PC that happens to be the second most popular in the world.
  • NVDA Community Add-ons: There are many great add-ons for NVDA for both users and testers! If you are a designer using NVDA for testing, you may like Focus Highlight, an add-on that visually highlights what the screen reader is reading to help you zone in on potential problems.

PAC

Standards & Legislation

Accessible Web Content:

Video:

Planning Accessible Events & Presentations

Professional Development

Free/Donation-based Events

  • Global Accessible Awareness Day:In-person and online events by leading experts on a variety of topics relating to accessibility.
  • Inclusive Design 24: 24 hour streaming of live, 1 hour presentations and demos on accessibility. All talks are archived and publicly available to view from 2014 to today.
  • #a11yTO Meet-up:One of the largest accessibility and inclusive design professional networking groups in the world is right here in Toronto! Events are usually held monthly (in non-pandemic times) with a break in the summer. Similar groups exist around the world in different cities (online search: “a11y [and your city’s name]”).
  • #a11yTO Camp:Free day-long casual conference (called a camp) on digital accessibility, usually held annually. It has been hosted at OCAD U in recent past years. Similar camps exist around the world (online search: “A11Y Camp” [and your city’s name]).
  • Adobe Max: annual conference by Adobe which has featured talks on accessibility using Acrobat and InDesign in recent years. Online attendance is free with your Adobe subscription.

Ticketed Events

  • #a11yTO Conf: Two-day conference on digital accessibility that is held annually in downtown Toronto. It features speakers from around the world.
  • CSUN: The most popular conference on digital accessibility internationally takes place in San Diego annually. If you cannot attend in person, you can soak up the information via Twitter and through other online repositories.
  • Guelph Accessibility Conference:annual conference at Guelph University in Kitchener-Waterloo. It has a wide scope of topics and speakers relating to accessibility, with a focus on education and government in Ontario.
  • InDesign Accessibility Summit: CreativePro’s online conference on accessible document design using InDesign.

Hashtags:

Online discussions take place on constantly Twitter (and other social media platforms too – but currently not as frequently) using the hashtag #a11y, #AXSChat, and #accessibility. It is a great way to stay connected to the community globally, to learn and share together, and ask questions. You can also follow discussions on localized accessibility topics such as #aoda in Ontario. Forums and online groups in your area of interest are also great to follow.

You will see the hashtag ‘a11y’ used a lot in the accessibility world. a11y stands for accessibility, most commonly used to refer to digital or web accessibility. There are 11 characters in the word ‘accessibility’ with ‘A’ being the first and ‘Y’ the last letter.

Disclaimer

These links are being provided as a convenience and for informational purposes only. I bear no responsibility for the accuracy, legality or content of the external site or for that of subsequent links and downloads. Please contact the external site for answers to questions regarding its content. Thank you.

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