This guest blog post was written by Articulate Customer Support Engineer Brian Batt.
Exploring compliance with Section 508 is often a confusing venture, but it doesn’t have to be that way. One way of achieving Section 508 Compliance is by providing a compliant alternative for those with accessibility needs. Part of the difficulty in producing Flash content that can be read by a screen reader (such as JAWS) is that Flash content, by its very nature, is visual and usually interactive; neither of which plays well in an environment where a screen reader is used.
For example, in Engage, take a Guided Image diagram: How would someone who is visually impaired navigate a guided image in any way that was beneficial to her? Also, often with software products that enable you to produce 508-compliant Flash content, the output either strictly adheres to the 508 standards, or only loosely meets 508. Thus, you either have content that loses much of its interactivity or creates a negative experience for those with accessibility needs.
With the wide range of publishing options available in Articulate Studio ’09, you will be able to create Section 508 compliant materials rapidly and easily with a positive user experience for all users.
According to Section 508, 1194.1 Purpose:
“Section 508 requires that when Federal agencies develop, procure, maintain, or use electronic and information technology, Federal employees with disabilities have access to and use of information and data that is comparable to the access and use by Federal employees who are not individuals with disabilities, unless an undue burden would be imposed on the agency. Section 508 also requires that individuals with disabilities, who are members of the public seeking information or services from a Federal agency, have access to and use of information and data that is comparable to that provided to the public who are not individuals with disabilities, unless an undue burden would be imposed on the agency.”
Using PowerPoint and Articulate ’09, there are several different ways to make your content Section 508 Compliant, including the following:
- Convert your PowerPoint presentation to an HTML page and provide a hyperlink to an MP3 version of your narration by using the Publish to Podcast option in Presenter ’09.
- Use the Publish to Word option in Presenter ’09, Engage ’09, and Quizmaker ’09 to provide Word versions of your content.
First, let’s take a look at creating an HTML page, publishing an MP3 version of the presentation, and linking the files together.
Save the Presentation as a Word Document
Since saving a PowerPoint presentation as an HTML page in PowerPoint does not create an accessible format, we’ll begin by saving the presentation as a Word document:
In the “Send to Microsoft Office Word” option screen, choose “Notes below slides” and “Paste” as shown below:
After clicking on the OK button, Microsoft Word will open a copy of your presentation.
We’ll begin using Word like a basic webpage editor. We can change the wording where the slide numbers appear in order to provide a better description of each slide; we can also change the size of each of the thumbnails. You can change the image size of the thumbnail by simply right-clicking the image and choosing Format Object > Size. Be sure to scale the image proportionally and never go above 100%.
Also, since the slide notes of the presentation are likely just a transcript of the narration, it is important to edit visual and interactive references. If the slide notes reference something that is visually occurring on the screen, then the text will need to be rewritten so that it describes what is happening in a written format. This same principle will need to be applied to any interactive elements as well. For example, if the narrator asks the end user to click on an answer on the screen, then you will have to modify the text so that it reads more like a typical paper-based course.
Adding Alt Text to Images
The last step required before creating an MP3 version of our presentation is to add alt text to each of the images.
Jared Smith of WebAIM: Web Accessibility states that:
“Alt, or alternative, text should convey the important content of each image. This text is provided as a replacement for the image if the user disables or cannot see images. An image’s alt text should be succinct, accurate, and only added to images that convey information or content.”
Read more on alt text best practices.
We can easily add alt text to an image in Word by using the method below:
- Right-click each image and select ‘Format Object’
- Select the ‘Alt Text’ tab and type in your alternative text
- Click the OK button
- Repeat for each image
Now that we are satisfied with the layout and have added alt text for each of the images, we’ll go back into PowerPoint and publish the narration to an MP3 by using the ‘Publish to Podcast’ feature. After that, we’ll come back into the Word document and add a link to the MP3 file.
Publish Presentation to an MP3 Podcast
You can publish your project narration to a Podcast by using the following method:
- Click on the Articulate menu > Publish
- Select the Podcast tab
- Click on the Publish button
Once the MP3 file has been saved, you’ll need to upload the file to your server so that you can provide a direct hyperlink from the HTML page to the MP3 file.
Create a Hyperlink within Word to the MP3 File
Now, we’ll add the hyperlink to the MP3 file in Word by using the method below:
- Type the text that you want to use for the link. For this example, we’ll use the following:
- Highlight, right click the text, and choose Hyperlink
- In the Insert Hyperlink window, type in the location of the MP3 file in the Address section and click the OK button.
To download an audio narration of this presentation, click here.
After inserting the hyperlink, notice that the text has changed to a blue font indicating that a hyperlink is now associated with that text.
Providing Software to Play the Audio File in MP3 Format
Whether you are linking to a Word document, PDF file, or an MP3 file, you must always provide a link to software that will enable the user to utilize the file. In this example, we are linking to an MP3 file. Therefore, we will create a hyperlink that links to the Windows Media Player.
- Type the text that you want to use for the link. For this example, we’ll use the following:
- Highlight, right-click the text, and choose Hyperlink
- In the Insert Hyperlink window, type in the location of the software file in the Address section and click the OK button. For this example, we’ll use the following:
If you experience problems with the audio file in MP3 format, please download Windows Media Player 11.
After inserting the hyperlink, you will once again notice that the text has changed to a blue font indicating that a hyperlink is now associated with that text.
Providing Software for Other File Types
Keep in mind that you should follow the process above for each media type that you wish to include. Here are a few examples of file formats and the text you may use to direct the end user.
Linking to Word documents:
Linking to PDF documents:
Linking to other various file types:
If you need help accessing information in different file formats such as PDF, Word, MP3, see: Instructions for Downloading Viewers and Players.
Save the Word Document as a Web Page
The final step is actually saving the Word document as a filtered web page. Saving it as a filtered web page will remove most of the extra code added by Word. This not only prevents accessibility issues, but also makes the web page more compatible with various browsers. Use the method below to save the Word document as a filtered web page:
- Save the Word document as a ‘Web Page, Filtered’
- After saving the file, the webpage will open within Word. Simply close Word & browse to the location that you saved the page.
- Upload the .htm file and the corresponding folder to your web server. Click here to see the example that we created.
By using the steps above, we have created a simple web page version of our presentation that is easily accessible and compliant.
If creating a web page version of your presentation and providing a link to the narration is not enough, we can expand upon what we’ve learned so far and also include Word versions of our Engage and Quizmaker output.
Publishing Presenter, Engage and Quizmaker to Word
Word documents are easily read by screen readers and are easier to navigate for visually impaired users. By publishing your Presenter presentation, Engage interaction or your Quizmaker quiz to Word, you can provide your end-user with a comparable version of the output. Being that the steps are the same in all of the programs, we’ll walk through the steps in Quizmaker:
- Open your quiz in Quizmaker ’09
- Click on the Publish button and choose Full quiz details
- Click the Publish button
After creating the Word version of your quiz or other content, you can upload it to your server and add a hyperlink to the previously created web page. This will allow the end-user to either view the content online or offline at his discretion.
Advanced Section 508 Compliance — Editing the player.html File
You can also add hyperlinks directly to your player.html file that is created when you publish a project to the web from Presenter ’09. This will allow you to link to the Word documents or the web page that you just created. To link to the web page that we just created, use the following method:
- Publish your content to the web from Articulate Presenter ’09
- Open the player.html file in a text editor like Notepad
- Scroll to the very bottom of the document and insert a hyperlink below the </div> tag and above the </body> tag. The text should look similar to this:
- Add hyperlinks for the rest of the content. You can either link directly to a web page that contains Section 508 Compliant material or link to your published Word documents.
<a href=”http://www.yourservername.com/Section508Compliance.htm”>To view an accessible alternative, click here.</a>
Click here to view an example of an edited player.html file.
(Note: You will need to scroll down to see the link.)
By publishing your project to a web page, you have an unlimited amount of control over the content and the accessibility. You can change the size of the images, adjust the layout of the slides, and even add alternate tags to the images. Alternatively, you can publish your content to Word from within each program. No matter which method you choose, you will be able to provide comparable alternate content to all of your users and clients in a functional format that is highly usable.
Note: This article provides guidance on how to create a Section 508 compliant course. However, full compliance of Section 508 will vary by organization. Thus, additional steps beyond what this article provides may be necessary (e.g., accounting for video captioning, interactive scenarios, etc.).
Refer to the following links for more information on Section 508: