An innovation that revolutionises the ease and speed of creating accessible documents in Microsoft Word, the Document Accessibility Toolbar (DAT) supports individuals and organisations to embrace accessibility as ‘business as usual’ at no cost.
The DAT puts the power of accessible functionality into the hands of content authors, for the ultimate benefit of consumers with disability or age-related impairment.
What is the DAT?
Free to download, the DAT is a dedicated accessibility ribbon menu for Microsoft Word that makes it quicker and easier to create accessible documents. Pioneered by Vision Australia’s Digital Access consultancy, and supported by the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN), it features a range of hand-picked and custom-built functions to optimise and validate a document for accessibility.
Find out more in this video featuring David Masters, Corporate Affairs Manager for Microsoft Australia, and Wayne Hawkins, Disability Policy Advisor for ACCAN. Please note: the second video features extended audio description.
Video with full audio description:
A smarter approach to accessibility
A resource for everyone, the DAT paves the way for an exciting new approach to accessibility where everyone contributes and awareness is driven from the ground up within an organisation. By simplifying the process and helping users understand accessibility along the way, the DAT breaks down common barriers to ensure accessibility becomes business as usual.
A document created with the DAT also contains the essential components required for easy conversion to accessible PDF or HTML, thereby extending the reach of accessible information and reducing remediation efforts. In fact, about 85% of the accessible characteristics implemented in a Word document transfer to PDF when the correct conversion process is used.
DAT features and benefits for document creators
Like most formats, Word is only accessible if you make it accessible. The DAT makes it quicker and easier to create an accessible Word document by:
- Providing a centralised location for accessibility functions.
- Automating various parts of accessibility implementation.
- Serving as a checklist for accessibility.
- Serving as a validator for accessibility.
A unique innovation and the first product of its kind, the DAT features a range of custom-built functions:
- A built-in screen reader that enables a content author to simulate the experience of a person who is blind or has low vision.
- A table wizard that automates header column and row markup.
- An alternative text wizard that prompts a content author to apply alternative text when an image is inserted.
- A colour contrast tool that helps a content author to find colour combinations with insufficient colour contrast and rectify them.
- A Word-to-HTML converter that produces HTML without Microsoft’s proprietary code and facilitates conversion to accessible HTML.
Why is the DAT so important?
The DAT will not only make accessible document creation easier, it will ensure equal access to information for everyone.
Equal access to information, regardless of ability, is a human right and is essential for all individuals to participate fully in society. Globally, there are over one billion people with disability, and the number of people with age-related impairment is growing rapidly. That’s a huge percentage of the population who may need to use different tools and approaches to access digital content, such as online documents. This is particularly significant where government information is concerned as public service messages are usually highly relevant and important to the community.
The DAT is an innovation that utilises technology to its full potential in order to level the playing field for people with disability or age-related impairment. By simplifying accessibility implementation, it strengthens the argument for accessibility as standard business practice. In turn, content producers become more confident and accountable, and consumers are empowered to self-advocate for accessible information.
Having already contributed to a number of internationally acclaimed accessibility tools, such as the Web Accessibility Toolbar and Colour Contrast Analyser, the DAT is yet another resource from Digital Access at Vision Australia set to make a positive impact by enabling greater inclusion for all.
Who's behind the DAT?
The DAT was created by Pierre Frederiksen (coding, design of custom functions) and Leona Zumbo (concept, research and design) from the Digital Access team.
Learn how to use the DAT effectively with DAT 101: Everyday Document Accessibility. This eLearning course supports individuals and whole organisations to improve their understanding of accessibility and learn key functions to make a Word document more accessible.