Information Services Division


The Role of Teaching Staff

Reasonable Adjustment

How does one interpret the word "reasonable"? The general interpretation is what would be reasonably expected from the establishment concerned taking into consideration the financial resources of the establishment as a whole and the time constraints of the individuals concerned.

Handouts created in Word

Printing handouts on off-white paper will considerable help colour sensitive users and dyslexics as it removes the glare of black text on white. Font size should be no smaller than 12 points but according to the latest research it is not thought that the style of font will affect reading of hard copies. However, it is now commonly thought that a sans serif font such as Arial or in particular Verdana are far easier to read when viewing on screen.

Long documents should have a Table of Contents added so that students can see at a glance the structure of the contents. This will not only help dyslexics who respond better to learning in small chunks, but ALL students will find this will enhance their absorption of the material they are reading. There are other functions in Word that will make learning easier, e.g. cross-references, an index.

Additionally, all handouts should be made available electronically, in order that disabled students, such as those with dyslexia or who are visually impaired, are able to customise documents to their own requirements. For example, they can change the background and the font colour to avoid the glare caused by black text on white. They can also change the line spacing, the font, the size of font and modify the styles of the original document.

So you might ask yourself what is left for the originator to do? In point of fact the one thing that will really contribute to making an electronic version of a Word document more usable is to ensure that it is easy to navigate.

So how is this done?

The answer is to use an appropriate hierarchy of styles so that the user can navigate the document using Document Map view. In order to do this all headings should have a style allotted to them in the relevant hierarchy, i.e. Heading 1 for the main headings, heading 2 for the sub-headings and heading 3 for the sub-sub-headings and so on. Body text should be set to Normal with only the occasional emphasis using italics or bold, never underlining to avoid confusion with hyperlinks. 

Word has built in styles

The option arrow in the Style box in the Formatting toolbar with all the default styles available, e.g. Heading 1, 2 and 3 and Normal. The Clear Formatting option will attribute text with Normal style.

All you have to do is…

Place the cursor within the heading text, select the appropriate heading from the Style box within the Formatting toolbar.

Text styles in Microsoft Word…

You can change the default heading styles if you wish by clicking on the relevant style in the Styles and Formatting Task Pane and clicking on the Modify… option. Once you have attributed the various heading styles within the document it should then be possible to view those headings in Document Map view. To access Document Map View you will need to go the View menu and select Document Map. The entire document, no matter how many pages can be quickly navigated by clicking on the various headings. By doing this not only will you be helping students who are experiencing fine motor difficulties and would find it difficult to scroll through many pages, but those students who have been diagnosed as dyslexic. All this will the added benefit that everyone will find it easier to identify the structure of the document and navigate quickly to pertinent sections.

By adopting styles and a Table of Contents (TOC) you will have created a Word document which if converted to a PDF will then also be accessible in that format as well.

Making PowerPoint presentations more accessible

All students would benefit from having the speaker’s notes added to each slide which is a built-in function within PowerPoint. One would then have to ask the question as to how many academics would have the time to ‘write up’ their annotations. However, if notes in the form of a crib sheet are already available then it is a simple case of copying them to the notes section of the relevant slides.

If no notes are available then the very least the originator, or the person responsible for publishing the PowerPoint presentation, should do is copy all the text from each slide and paste it into the relevant Notes section. This is necessary because if a vision impaired user is “listening” to the presentation through specialist software the actual slides become graphics when either Impatica is used or the presentation is converted to a PowerPoint show.

All you have to do is…
Adjust the PowerPoint Screen so that the Notes area is in view by dragging on the grey bar between the slide window and the Notes window. 

Powerpoint notes…

Paste text into the area where “Click to add notes” is displayed prior to any text appearing in the Notes window.

You can format this text using bullets and numbering just as you can within Word.

The Notes pages can then be printed/published/downloaded separately.

Making PDFs more accessible

The secret to making PDFs more accessible is to ensure that prior to conversion the original document was made accessible. There is some useful guidance on PDF accessibility Web Aim website