There are a number of ways that documents can be made more accessible to people who have vision impairment. Types of vision impairment that can cause difficulty include far- or nearsightedness, tunnel vision, or problems with clarity.
Things to consider when preparing a document are:
- Font size: Fonts smaller than 12 will be difficult to read.
- Use specific Styles for creating headings, which can be detected by screen readers.
- Use tables for tabular data and avoid merging cells.
- Make sure all text is left-aligned.
- Avoid text boxes.
- Colour choices: Pick text colours and background colours that are easy to distinguish from one another. The blue range is one of the first to deteriorate with age-related deterioration, and should be a consideration when deciding on text colours.
- Textual descriptions of images and diagrams should be included, as, unlike the image itself, these can be detected by screen readers and braille displays.
- Text in images will not be detected by screen readers.
- Links should describe what is being linked to.
- If your document contains columns, make sure there is adequate white space between the columns so that screen readers detect the column breaks rather than reading across the page.
Create an Accessible Office Document: This free, online training course by Microsoft Office teaches participants about accessibility and how to increase the accessibility of your documents for various users with disabilities. It addresses a range of different types of disabilities and illustrates how to support these users.
Blind Foundation: Information About Accessibility: This page on the New Zealand based Blind Foundation's website offers information about making printed and electronic texts accessible for low-vision and blind audiences.
Microsoft Corporation (2014). Create an accessible Office document. Retrieved from: http://office.microsoft.com/en-au/training/overview-RZ006380094.aspx?section=1
Smith, T. (n.d.). 'Accessible documents' in Blind Foundation. Retrieved from: http://blindfoundation.org.nz/learn/accessible-information/accessible-documents