[Athen] Fw: Office365 - Online vs Desktop applications for accessibility

Kate Deibel kndeibel at syr.edu
Fri Apr 2 10:40:08 PDT 2021

I agree that 365's built-in export to/save as PDFs is not as good as the Adobe plug-in's tool, for a lot of the documents that are being generated in PowerPoint or Word, it's more than sufficient in my experience. The majority of documents or slide decks rarely get into anything complex. If the Office accessibility checker reports all good, I'm willing to bet that most documents will not need any further remediation. And any such concerns could be handled by providing both the PDF and original source version of the files.

Another thought from this would be that the push to Office 365 online would merit increased calls/upgrade requests to improve Office's built-in accessibility export features. I went ahead and made one such suggestion on the UserVoice for Word: https://word.uservoice.com/forums/271331-word-for-the-web/suggestions/43058607-improve-accessible-pdf-export-to-be-on-par-with-th

Katherine (Kate) Deibel | PhD
Inclusion & Accessibility Librarian
Syracuse University Libraries
T 315.443.7178
kndeibel at syr.edu<mailto:kndeibel at syr.edu>
222 Waverly Ave., Syracuse, NY 13244
Syracuse University

From: athen-list <athen-list-bounces at mailman12.u.washington.edu> On Behalf Of chagnon at pubcom.com
Sent: Friday, April 2, 2021 12:12 PM
To: 'Access Technology Higher Education Network' <athen-list at u.washington.edu>
Subject: Re: [Athen] Fw: Office365 - Online vs Desktop applications for accessibility

I can give a bit of insight on this.

Although I don't use online versions of any software, I know that the online 365 Word will not have the Adobe PDF Maker plug-in, which is a highly preferred method of making accessible PDFs from MS Office (better controls, better more accurate conversion to the PDF/UA-1 standard).

So you'll make a PDF from online 365 Word by either of these methods:

1. Upload the Word document to Adobe's "Document Cloud" where it will be converted to a PDF, or
2. Use Word's internal conversion utility, Save As / File Type PDF. However, this utility has fewer controls and is manufactured by a 3rd company for Microsoft.

I can't give more details due to NDAs with the companies involved, but I can give you my opinion - neither method above would be my first choice for making accessible PDFs from a word processing document.

Remember the old adage... you get what you pay for, and "free" doesn't buy you much!

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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 Hunziker, Dawn A - (hunziker)
Sent: Friday, April 2, 2021 11:34 AM
To: ATHEN <athen-list at u.washington.edu<mailto:athen-list at u.washington.edu>>
Subject: [Athen] Fw: Office365 - Online vs Desktop applications for accessibility

Thank goodness, it's Friday! I don't know what keystroke I hit but my message was sent before I was done!

Here's the completed thoughts/questions:

Hi all,

We are working to change licensing for Office365 applications at the University of Arizona. They would like to see most employees use the online applications (free) rather than a desktop application (requires a license).

My Question: To have employees create accessible PDFs from their Office documents, do they need to have the desktop version or will the online application work? We have Adobe Pro licensing, so obviously the plugin wouldn't be available in the online Office stuff.... would that make a difference?

I know that anyone using a screen reader and possibly other assistive technology will need a desktop application just simply because the online versions are a bear to work with when using a screen reader - not necessarily impossible but certainly not nice.

Thank you!


Dawn Hunziker

IT Accessibility Consultant, Sr. | Disability Resources

The University of Arizona | hunziker at arizona.edu<mailto:hunziker at arizona.edu>
drc.arizona.edu<http://drc.arizona.edu/> | itaccessibility.arizona.edu<http://itaccessibility.arizona.edu/>

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