Vision Australia Creates A Tool To Be Integrated With Microsoft Word To Let People Who Are Vision Impaired 'See' Websites'

17/12/2015 9:21 AM AEDT | Updated 15/07/2016 12:51 PM AEST
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Imagine if the code which governs design disappeared from your favourite website.

Headings and captions and task bars all jumble into a shouting mess, pictures disappear and any type of graph or chart becomes entirely unintelligible.

That's the experience for people who are visually impaired when a website isn't built with accessibility in mind.

It inspired Vision Australia to develop a tool, implemented by Microsoft, that hopes to solve the problem.

Digital Access National Manager Neil King said most content for websites and PDFs had one thing in common.

"Whether you're creating content for a website or a PDF, almost everything that's written passes through Microsoft Word at some stage," King said.

The Australian-made Document Accessibility Toolbar is a simple plugin that ensures documents are formatted in an accessible way in Word, which King said would be carries on into a conversion to PDF or Hyper Text Markup Language (HTML).

"When it comes to accessibility as a whole, we believe the more you can make it business as usual, the more people will use it," King said.

"This tool really is instant and nothing major has to change but for the people who are vision impaired reading websites and PDFs, the feedback we get is that it's very important."

King and the team were now convincing government departments, universities and private institutions to use the tool.

"We want everyone in Australia to use the tool, we’re making accessibility paramount and a core consideration at the base level."

Once downloaded, the tool When downloaded, the tool gets its own dedicated tab in Microsoft Word and you can download it here.

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