man in a wheelchair waiting at the bottom of steps

For over 20 years, laws have been in place requiring websites to be accessible for people with disabilities.  Although many web developers, business owners, and government officials are aware of this, they may not know that the electronic documents on their websites must also be accessible.  Think about all of the documents available for download that might be on a website like job applications, restaurant menus, legislative bills, scientific studies, articles, directions to a business, etc. Now imagine that your customer is blind and uses a screen reading software program that can read text aloud, so he can “see” what is on the screen.  If that text comes into the screen reader out of order, or even worse, the screen reader is not able to pick up anything at all from the document, he will be out of luck.

One of the requirements of each Assistive Technology Act Program is to provide training in at least one of the areas of Information and Communication Technology (ICT).  ICT includes products that store, process, transmit, convert, duplicate, or receive electronic information.  Examples of ICT include computers, information kiosks and transaction machines, telecommunications equipment, multifunction office machines, software, Web sites, and electronic documents.

To start this endeavor, we at ND Assistive will first be addressing electronic document accessibility.  Thanks to Minnesota’s State Assistive Technology Act program, MN STAR, and the MN State Office of Accessibility, we are able to present you with seven modules on Microsoft Word Accessibility.  All artwork and presentations are the property of the state of MN.  These training modules are now all on our website, are free of charge, and are designed to be interactive, and self-paced.

We will also be doing introductory presentations in North Dakota on request regarding the need for electronic document accessibility.  If you would like a presentation at your business or government department, please contact us at info@ndassistive.org or 1-800-895-4728.

About Author

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Jeannie Krull is the Program Director for ND Assistive (formerly IPAT). She is an ASHA certified speech/language pathologist and a RESNA certified Assistive Technology Professional, who has worked with people with disabilities of all ages since 1991.