Converting an Existing Syllabus into an Accessible Document

Steps to convert an existing syllabus so that it is accessible to screen reading software:

  1. Open an existing syllabus in Word 2010. Click the Office button in the upper left and choose FileSave As... to save the document with a new name. If necessary, change the file type so the document will be .docx. If you get warning about possible changes to the layout, click OK.
  2. Sample of the document to be converted: Sample syllabus to be converted. No headings or styles.
  3. The document contains bold text that appear to be headings, but a quick look at the Headings tab on the Navigation Pane shows that there are no hierarchal headings specified. To view the Headings in the Navigation Pane, click on the View tab on the Ribbon and check the Navigation Pane option in the Show group. Navigation Of the three tabs on top of the Navigation Pane, choose the tab on the left if necessary. Navigation Pane
  4. To view the styles currently in use in the document, first you need to display the Styles Task Pane. To do so, first click on the Home tab of the Ribbon. Click the small icon in the lower right of the Styles group to show the Styles Task Pane. Show the Styles Task Pane.
  5. If you only want the styles in use to show in the Styles Task Pane, you may need to click the Options... link in the lower right of the task pane. In the Style Pane Options dialog, be sure that In use is selected in the Select styles to show: dropdown list and click OK. Style Pane Options
  6. These are the styles currently in use in the document. Notice that many of them are just fonts, which are not really styles. Styles in use.
  7. To remove all style formatting from the document, select all of the text by pressing Ctrl a. Click Clear All at the top of the Styles Task Pane. After checking the Show Preview option at the bottom of the Styles Task Pane, this is how my task pane appears: Empty task pane.
  8. The document should be clear of all styles. Depending on how the Normal style is configured, a document clear of all styles will appear similar to below. The Document Map should be empty. Document with no styles
  9. Begin by selecting the title and clicking the Title style in the Ribbon. Select text Title style
  10. To apply the headings, be sure that the heading text and actual information appear on separate lines.
  11. Apply the different heading levels (Heading1, Heading2, and Heading3) so the document will have a hierarchal organization structure. The Headings tab on the Navigation pane will reflect this. Headings
  12. The document shown above would appear like this with Word default styles applied: Styles applied.
  13. Any images that are inserted or pasted into the document should have an Alt Text attribute. Use these steps to add the Alt Text attribute to an image:
    1. Right click on the image and choose Format Picture...
    2. Choose the Alt Text option at the bottom of the left column. Providing alternate text for images
    3. Titles and descriptions provide alternative, text-based representations of the information contained in tables, diagrams, images, and other objects. This information is useful for people with vision or cognitive impairments who may not be able to see or understand the object. A title can be read to a person with a disability and is used to determine whether they wish to hear the description of the content.
  14. All tables should have table headers. Use these steps to ensure that they do:
    1. Place the cursor anywhere inside the table and click the Table Tools Design tab on the Ribbon. Table Tools Design tab on the Ribbon.
    2. In the Table Style Options group Make sure Header Row and First Column options are selected. Table Style Options
    3. Move the cursor up to the top header row and click the Table Tools Layout tab on the Ribbon. Table Tools Layout tab on the Ribbon.
    4. Select the Repeat Header Rows option in the Data group. Repeat Header Rows
    5. With these options chosen, the table will have a heading row at the top even if it spans multiple pages. Example table with header row.
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