Have you ever thought about whether your communications are accessible?
We’re talking things like emails, your website, documents, presentations or files.
By accessible, I mean can your communication be easily read and understood by everyone, including people with disabilities?
Whether you are a professional assistant within an organisation or a freelance assistant serving clients, it is worth giving this some thought.
If a company or business is not giving this consideration, you could be someone who raises it as part of encouraging and promoting inclusivity.
You may have noticed a feature Microsoft has incorporated into its Office and 365 applications – including Word, Excel and PowerPoint.
It’s called the ‘Accessibility Checker’…
You’ll find it, for example in Excel, under the Review tab.
Click on ‘Check Accessibility’ and it will open up a side bar in the application that indicates how your document could be made more accessible.
If you are a Microsoft Office Insider you already have access to an Accessibility Ribbon within Excel, which features tools to make your workbook more accessible.
It means you can create a document and check the content, layout and design before sending to someone. Or you could choose to send a ‘standard’ document and an alternative one.
Make Simple Improvements
A friend of mine spent some time working with an advocacy charity supporting adults with learning disabilities.
He said part of the role involved helping members to educate leaders in local government, health, employment and education about ‘Easy Read’ communication.
This meant encouraging people to:
- Avoid jargon
- Use simple words instead of long or complicated ones
- Use simple images to illustrate words
- Speak slowly and clearly
- Let people see your face when speaking (some read your lips)
You can apply some of these tips into your Excel document. It’s not a bad idea to keep things simple, whoever your audience is.
Those with the accessibility ribbon will find some useful tools to help.
With this feature, you can add alternative text and easy-to-understand names to pictures and charts. You might consider unmerging cells to provide a clear structure to how you present your data. You can also fix colour contrast issues.
Microsoft Offers Excel Accessibility Tips
Microsoft says the accessibility and inclusivity of its products is one of its core priorities.
It is encouraging Office and 365 users to provide feedback so it can continue to improve on both those fronts.
It has certainly got me thinking about my own content and how it’s set out.
With my online Excel courses I put a lot into making them easy to follow.
Every featured task in my training videos is broken down, visually, step-by-step. This means people can not only follow my voice but also see where I am pointing to, or clicking on the screen.
It’s like having somebody at your side, guiding you through it. There’s no waffle. Just clear instruction at a good pace. And I appear on the videos in a little box in the corner, so students can see me talking them through it as well as the open application.
What are you doing to make your communications clearer?
Does your audience include people who require information in an accessible format?
Let me know how it is working for you.