How to create accessible Word documents

Reading Time: 7 minutes

First, some definitions

An accessible document is a document that people with a range of physical and cognitive impairments can read and understand.

An accessible document is, typically, also a document that people with no physical or cognitive impairments can read and understand better, and faster.

Also typically, an accessible document is easier for content authors to maintain. Because it uses tools that are baked in to Word and other MS Office applications to support accessibility and improve workflow.

So, here are some tips on creating accessible Word documents.

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About David O'Brien

I'm a service designer in Scottish Enterprise's unsurprisingly-named service design team. I've been involved in the web for over 20 years, one way or another.

How we are improving the application process for customers with accessibility requirements

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Introduction 

As an organisation we are  committed to do more testing with people with accessibility needs. This will ensure that our services can be easily accessed by everyone and to meet our legal obligations as a public sector organisation. We aim to recruit participants with accessibility needs in every round of research that we do to ensure that accessibility is considered at every stage of the project. 

We tested extensively the prototype for the Green jobs grant which was launched in the summer of 2021. 

Our goals  

We had a number of aims for this research:

  • To test the application journey with users who have a range of accessibility needs and to find what the challenges were for them in our journey  
  • To get clarity on what areas worked well  
  • We wanted to discover if different needs give conflicting priorities  
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Writing for people, not businesses

Reading Time: 4 minutes

As an enterprise agency, our role is to support economic development, and this includes offering support and information to businesses in Scotland. This sometimes results in the misconception that our users are simply ‘businesses’.

But that’s not strictly the case. Even though our services are aimed at businesses, it’s still individual people that read our content, navigate application forms or contact our experts. They could be business owners, CEOs, accountants, finance directors, department heads, or any other individual within an organisation. And, being real people, there are a whole range of different needs and situations we need to consider when writing for them.

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Accessibility – Sharing knowledge between organisations

Reading Time: 8 minutes
Using Skyscanner and Scottish Enterprise brand colour palette to show the same visual explanation to a11y being used for short for accessibility
Accessibility can be written as a11y for short — 11 is the number of letters between the first and last letters

Heather Hepburn is the Accessibility Lead for Skyscanner and has been running their accessibility programme for just over a year.

Stéphanie Krus works as a Service Designer and is a member of the ‘Disability Positive’ group at Scottish Enterprise.

We ‘met’ virtually in October 2020 after a talk at the UCD Gathering from Heather Hepburn (Skyscanner) and Adi Latif (AbilityNet): “Digital Accessibility – How to get your organisation on the right track” 

Screenshot of a slide presenting Heather and Adi at the start of the talk
Slide from the talk during the UCD Gathering conference

We realised we had a lot we could share regarding how we address and improve accessibility in our organisations.  So we planned a knowledge sharing session which was held online on 27 January 2021 with about 20 people.

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About Stephanie Krus

I'm a service designer and started at Scottish Enterprise in May 2019.

How we are improving accessibility in our practice

Reading Time: 4 minutes

When I started at Scottish Enterprise in May 2019, my team had a whole day of Accessibility training with Hassell Inclusion. This was all the User Researchers, UX/UI designers and Service Designers being trained.

The developers and QA testers also got their own training and the content authors had a full day of training as well.

We were not starting from scratch. A lot of people in the team are really into accessibility. But it should be everyone’s responsibility. We should not rely on just a few people with a keen interest to make sure we deliver on Accessibility.

Continue reading “How we are improving accessibility in our practice”

About Stephanie Krus

I'm a service designer and started at Scottish Enterprise in May 2019.

Neurodiversity (Autism, ADHD, Dyslexia) – Some simple tips

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Neurodiversity is not a well known term. It’s used to reflect one the diversity of ways people’s brain functions. There is no ‘normal’ or ‘right’ way. People with autism, ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) or dyslexia are part of this neurodiversity.

infinity symbol with pride colours
The infinity symbol represents autistic pride (Istock art)
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About Stephanie Krus

I'm a service designer and started at Scottish Enterprise in May 2019.

Global Accessibility Awareness Day

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Thursday, May 21 2020, marks the ninth Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD). The purpose of GAAD is to get everyone talking, thinking and learning about digital access/inclusion and people with different disabilities.

The Digital team celebrated the day with a session opened to all the Scottish Enterprise staff.

bright yellow background and text stating: Global Accessibility Awareness Day - Thursday 21 May 2020 Scottish Enterprise
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About Stephanie Krus

I'm a service designer and started at Scottish Enterprise in May 2019.

Making our social media communications accessible

Reading Time: 2 minutes

To reach our audience, we need to do better to make sure everyone can access our posts on social media. We are planning to raise awareness within Scottish Enterprise of what needs to be done so that our communications are accessible.

phone screen with lots of icons, some from social media with notifications
Photo by Rami Al-zayat on Unsplash
Continue reading “Making our social media communications accessible”

About Stephanie Krus

I'm a service designer and started at Scottish Enterprise in May 2019.

Why accessibility matters

Reading Time: 3 minutesMy mother-in-law has cancer.

It’s been painful, these last few months, watching a woman who was skiing in the Alps at Easter hobbling around on a crutch this summer. Though not a fraction as painful as it has been for her.

The disease has entered her bones, causing them to become so fragile that she has fractured her pelvis. Which is where the crutch comes in.

Fortunately, her prognosis is good. Radiotherapy, not chemo, was prescribed. Bones can recover, and injections speed the healing process. Her health improves daily. Continue reading “Why accessibility matters”

About David O'Brien

I'm a service designer in Scottish Enterprise's unsurprisingly-named service design team. I've been involved in the web for over 20 years, one way or another.