[Athen] [EXT] Tables accessibility

Karlen Communications info at karlencommunications.com
Tue Jun 9 07:40:35 PDT 2020

I’ve been trying to find a group/organization that would be willing to start taking our long standing best practices for word processed, presentation and spreadsheet documents/content and move us toward an international standard with no luck. For word processed content, many of our best practices are based on long standing publisher “standards” and I’d like to use as many of those as possible. For other document parts we have an understanding of what the authoring tool is capable of and what adaptive technology is capable of and can blend those elements in.

So, if anyone has any idea on how to start building this type of standard let me know. It is a huge area of accessible document design or digital content design that we really need a standard for.

Cheers, Karen

From: athen-list <athen-list-bounces at mailman12.u.washington.edu> On Behalf Of chagnon at pubcom.com
Sent: Tuesday, June 9, 2020 10:13 AM
To: 'Access Technology Higher Education Network' <athen-list at U.WASHINGTON.EDU>
Subject: Re: [Athen] [EXT] Tables accessibility

At this time, there isn’t a standard for accessible office documents (Word, GoogleDocs, PowerPoint, Excel, etc.).

We have WCAG for HTML/web content, PDF/UA for PDF files, and EPUB for EPUB documents. But nothing designed specifically for office documents.

So what you find on the web are recommendations, and maybe an entity’s requirements (such as from a university or government agency). Generally the recommendations are based on WCAG and PDF/UA.

But there is no thorough, vetted, and official set of standards for office documents, such as an ISO standard.

So in a way, we’re all just making this up as we go along. <grin>

Our guidelines to clients and students regarding Alt-text on tables:

* Make a better, more simple table so that it doesn’t need to be explained with Alt-text (or summary or caption or something else).
* If it would be helpful to those with vision deficiencies to have this type of information, then make it available to all users, not just those using screen readers. Alt-text is often hidden from most users, and is voiced only by screen readers, so this is not the best way to convey the information to everyone.
* Live narrative text is always a better way to provide this info to all users. Tag it Caption or Summary and place it before the table itself to ensure the widest audience can access it. Long ago when I was in academia publishing, this information was a phrase, sentence, or short paragraph that precedes the table, called Prefatory Information. It still is one of the most effective and efficient ways to communicate to all users. And it doesn’t require any addition tools or coding to be useful and accessible.

Just my 2 cents’ worth.


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Bevi Chagnon, founder/CEO | chagnon at pubcom.com <mailto:chagnon at pubcom.com>

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From: athen-list <athen-list-bounces at mailman12.u.washington.edu <mailto:athen-list-bounces at mailman12.u.washington.edu> > On Behalf Of Khaleel Eksheir
Sent: Tuesday, June 9, 2020 9:39 AM
To: Access Technology Higher Education Network <athen-list at u.washington.edu <mailto:athen-list at u.washington.edu> >
Subject: Re: [Athen] [EXT] Tables accessibility

Hi Glen and Robert,

Yes, Robert's answer is what I was looking for. The Alt Text option was available in MS Office for tables and I always recommended to use it. But now that its removed, and not an accessibility standard, I learned something new and I will not include it in my recommendations.

Thank you so much for the clarification and the information.


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