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A review of the document extract in the previous step.

Accessibility Issues

  • There are no Headings - lines such as Distribution of Fire Extinguishers throughout Institute are just bolded text not structural headings. This means the document cannot provide structure for navigation to assistive technologies such as screen readers.

  • The image has no alternative text. So no text can be read out for those who cannot see the image.

  • There is no link anchor text available for the web address (URL). The URL itself does not tell you where you are going or about the content of the target page. What does http://bit.ly/1Nr178 point to?

  • The table in the document is very complex. There are split cells, summary totals, vertical data horizontal data and much more. It would have helped to have had a summary so the reader could decide if they wanted to try to navigate through all the cells.

Additional improvements

  • Text is not left justified – it is fully justified which distributes spaces between words unevenly. This places an extra cognitive load on those that have print difficulties.

  • The font in the document is a serif based font. The jury is out as to whether this makes reading harder for everyone, but when magnified and for those with visual stress and certain reading difficulties, the extra decoration can cause problems. Simple sans serif fonts, such as the one used in this article, can be more helpful.

Note: These last two issues won’t affect those who are blind or have considerable visual impairments and needs to use screen readers to have text read aloud.

Specialist software magnification tools are usually able to rearrange text (including fonts, colors and layout) according to the chosen user settings. Nevertheless, font and justification affect a large number of people who have minor or other print impairments and don’t use specialist software. These include older people whose visual acuity naturally decreases with age and those who have colour deficiencies, people with low vision or visual stress and reading difficulties.

There are times when content is presented by others in lecture halls, museums and other public places. You may start to notice signage and begin to think about how particular fonts affect reading speeds. Take justified text on white backgrounds that can be used in presentations on shiny screens with projectors. The glare of black on white with a blur of text in the distance! Simple fonts, good spacing and well structured presentations help everyone.


© This work is a derivative of a work created by Dublin Institute of Technology and Université Paris 8 Vincennes Saint-Denis, and licensed under CC-BY BY 4.0 International Licence adapted and used by the University of Southampton. Erasmus + MOOCs for Accessibility Partnership.

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This article is from the free online course:

Digital Accessibility: Enabling Participation in the Information Society

University of Southampton