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.

Yellow background with stationary and white paper in the middle with the word accessibility on it

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.

Microsoft offers some tips about how to make your Excel documents more accessible, both for Windows
and for Mac.

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.

The session was well structured and the explanation was very clear. It was amazing how Shelley managed to squeeze so much info in just one hour and a half! Colin’s support and contributions were also very valuable, and so were “Virtual Veronica”‘s. Thank you for a most interesting and useful training session at the Miss Jones Virtual Summit!

Laura Carizzo- Royal Norwegian Embassy in Argentina

I haven’t used PowerPoint in 20 years, this has really boosted my confidence.

Lyn Parker

Course is packed with so much valuable information in a easy-to-understand and follow language, even for a complete beginner. I can respect the fact that sometimes it’s very hard for an expert to break the information down to basics. but Shelley has done it brilliantly. I was sure that I knew quite a bit but Shelley has proven me wrong even at the very beginning of the basics of PowerPoint. Lessons are short and precise which allowed me to easily transfer the new skill into practice without being overwhelmed and to carry on adding on more with each lesson. I had so many ‘Aha!’ moments and for most of them I couldn’t believe I used to pay graphic designer to do it for me, now, thanks to Shelley, I am looking forward to creating, designing, converting my presentations all by myself!

Iva Freeman – Vertex Human Capital

Shelley was very thorough and knew a lot of tip’s for using Teams, thank you 🙂

James O’Connor – Cavannah Homes

Very informative, constantly getting everyone in the meeting involved, loved every bit of it!

Dylan Teal Hopkins – Cavannah Homes
Fantastic and informative training and great to see all of the exciting functions with Microsoft Teams.
Laura Rigby – The Apprenticeship College
Shelley was really clear in her teaching and went at a pace that was helpful to us. We covered all we needed to know to get us started, as a small team, using MS Teams. She was also very helpful in the run up to the session, with check in calls and ensuring our platform was set up correctly. I would highly recommend Shelley to anyone wanting to learn to navigate their way around MS Teams.
Leigh Dowling – Innuous

Microsoft Teams One to One Training Session

Shelley was approachable, easy to work with, and agile with answering questions to apply the session to my specific needs

Melissa Marshall – Present Your Science

A course on Outlook had been on the top of my list when Shelley asked VA’s what they wanted to learn.

It was a real case of ‘so that’s how you do it’ or ‘I never knew that’. I have to say that I learnt so many great tips it has definitely improved the way I work in Outlook and my inbox is looking colourful and organised and I can’t wait to share this knowledge with my clients.

Jacqueline Leake – JLeake VA Services – Outlook

A great course with lots of examples and step by step instructions. I can now confidently create infographics and as a bonus, I learnt a lot of new PowerPoint functionality that will enhance all my PowerPoint work and save me so much time.

Jessica Bailey – Integral Resource

I really like Shelley’s courses. She has a clear and easy to follow teaching style. In ‘How to Create Fillable Forms’ I’ve learned about the functions of the Developer ribbon which will mean I’ll be able to create a bespoke Returns Form for a client who has an online shop

Freya Henderson – Virtual Office Orkney

Shelley was really clear in her teaching and went at a pace that was helpful to us. We covered all we needed to know to get us started, as a small team, using MS Teams. She was also very helpful in the run up to the session, with check in calls and ensuring our platform was set up correctly. I would highly recommend Shelley to anyone wanting to learn to navigate their way around MS Teams.

Sarah Clements – Inuous

Absolutely superb course, easy to follow and to refer back whilst putting it all into practice! I was unaware of the extent you can customise a presentation and it’s just made me want to know more – what’s next Shelley?

Denise Williams

I thought I had a pretty good grasp of Outlook until I did this course! In her videos, Shelley is clear and concise, and the language she uses is straightforward and jargon-free. Each module is broken down into manageable chunks, which helps keep your attention and means the course is easy to fit in around other commitments. I’ve created email templates and implemented rules that are already saving me time, and as all the other things I’ve learnt start to become second nature, the positive impact on my efficiency is fast becoming clear. This course has been incredibly beneficial and I would highly recommend it to anyone looking to strengthen their skills and boost productivity.

Pip Doleman VA

I thought I knew Powerpoint really well, but I wanted to specifically learn how to use Powerpoint to create better infographics, easily and quickly. Shelley explains everything in a very logical and clear way, so I understood everything the first time I heard it. The most useful thing I learnt was that Powerpoint can do so much more than I thought it could. By also using the short cuts that Shelley showed me I am much quicker than I have ever been and I thought I was already quick!

Susan Marot

Shelley Fishel of Tomorrow’s VA has a wealth of experience in Microsoft Office. I met her in person 2 years ago at the PA Show in London. I also saw her in action in a fab workshop and knew she was the whizz that everyone had told me she was. I have since bought a lifetime access to her HUB and all the courses in there are a MUST if you are a VA on a mission. The courses will give you confidence in all the Office 365 components and will catapult you to dizzy heights

Alex Hughes