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Since I'm going to be writing some accessibility-related posts in the coming weeks and today is the first of that series, I want to refresh your brains about (or maybe tell you for the first time) what "accessibility" means in the context of computing.
First let me tell you this (and yes, I've said it before, again, this is for everyone): Everyone sees, hears, feels, and maneuvers around the world differently. Very few of us have 20/20 vision, perfect hearing, and 100-percent use of every single part of our bodies. In fact, among adult computer users in the United States, 1 in 4 has a vision difficulty, 1 in 4 has a dexterity difficulty, and 1 in 5 has a hearing difficulty. But even if you don't have any issues regarding vision, dexterity, or hearing, chances are you may know, work with, or love someone who does.
As the computer-using population grows older, these numbers are bound to increase. Accessibility features in Office (and in virtually all Microsoft programs) exist to help those of us with less than perfect vision, hearing, or dexterity.
There is a a good measure of information regarding what accessibility means, and here are some of what I think are the best explanations:
Before you dash off and think that this information doesn't apply to you, let me tell you this: any accessibility-friendly feature is available for anyone to use, and I suggest you familiarize yourself with these features; you cannot imagine how much quicker they can make your work go (but we'll get into that another time.)
In the next coming weeks we'll delve into where to find accessibility features, how to use them, and how to create accessible documents that everyone can access. I'm also going to be introducing you to Karen McCall, a Microsoft MVP who writes extensively about (and who also uses) accessibility features and options in Word.
Crabby's Find of the Day: The Internet is maddening for the blind
Hello. I am looking forward to learning more about creating accessible documents. I did notice this webpage has some accessibility issues though. There isn’t alt text on many of the images, and the search field is missing a form label. I like to run my webpages through some of the publicly available free testing tools before publication.
@Melinda: You're absolutely right, Melinda. I try to create the best alt text I can for the images I'm responsible for but I have passed your comment along to the other people who also work on this site Hopefully you'll see some improvements...soon! Thanks for your comment.