Today I struck an accessibility problem in an otherwise perfectly clear Word document. Though small, it was a healthy reminder that web content accessibility guidelines, as in WCAG 2.0, apply to everything we write on a computer.
Later this week I'm to present a couple of awards. I received the script, and because I want to read the judges' comments accurately on the night, I printed it. On paper, what else?
Only then did I notice the problem.
"MC part in black font. Reader's part in blue font (Rachel)."
Why is this a problem?
- First, I use a black-and-white-only printer most of the time, for good housewifely reasons. So the printed version was not entirely satisfactory, even though blue font appeared grey, very different from bold-black for the MC's words.
- Secondly, the printed script covers three pages, and the colour cue was only visible on page one.
- Thirdly, while I'm not colour blind, as a fully fledged older person with incipient cataracts, I don't have perfect sight. I regard my own responses as a valid test case for whether content (on the web or elsewhere) is distinguishable to millions of slightly disabled people.
Being a playwright, I instantly fixed the problem by inserting characters' names before each of their speeches— "MC:" or "Rachel:"
Let's keep this in proportion: this was a tiny problem that affected only me, and was easily fixed.
But it's a good reminder that content is not only web content, and many WCAG 2.0 accessibiilty guidelines have much wider applications. Bear them in mind also whenever you're writing any electronic documents.