Making documents accessible for screen readers…

For the past 2 1/2 years I’ve been plinking away at my MSED (thank goodness for online courses!) and have nearly another year to go since required courses are only offered certain terms of the year.  One thing I’m working on right now is converting a document into something that addresses accessibility issues by making it work with screen readers.

Holy mother.

If this is something that you are interested in let me suggest learning about what makes documents and web pages accessible BEFORE you start authoring content!  It is FAR simpler to create content with accessibility in mind from the beginning rather than try and convert something that has already been finished.  My project included a document that had all sorts of images grouped together with directions for an activity and to make things more difficult, included simple language translations throughout.  Something that, come to find out, screen readers don’t always automatically read properly.  That second language requires HTML tweaking and a couple of Excedrin.  Since I’m in the final couple of weeks of this term and this ballooning project isn’t even my final project, I was about at my wits end.  Fortunately, my instructor just agreed there is value in stopping where I am in the process and doing an in-depth write up with examples of the challenges thus far.  Thank goodness I’ve been taking screen shots of the mess as I go and will be able to do a fairly decent explanation.

Just in case it helps anyone else, I will paste links below for web pages I frantically read through for bits of understanding here and there and are just enough to get you started down the path (these are in no particular order):

http://www.nvaccess.org/

http://www.freedomscientific.com/Downloads/JAWS

http://www.ssbbartgroup.com/blog/how-browsers-interact-with-screen-readers-and-where-aria-fits-in-the-mix/

https://soap.stanford.edu/tips-and-tools/screen-reader-testing

http://smallbusiness.chron.com/edit-html-word-54837.html

http://www.washington.edu/accessibility/checklist/language/

https://www.w3.org/International/articles/language-tags/

http://www.filemaker.com/help/12/fmp/html/edit_layout.10.34.html

http://webaim.org/techniques/word/

http://webaim.org/techniques/word/#checker

http://webaim.org/techniques/screenreader/

http://www.brighthub.com/computing/windows-platform/articles/26119.aspx

http://www.adobe.com/content/dam/Adobe/en/accessibility/pdfs/accessing-pdf-sr.pdf

http://www.adobe.com/accessibility.html

http://whatsock.com/