Version: Dec. 2010
The Accessible Digital Office Documents (ADOD) Project is an undertaking to provide guidance on the accessibility of office documents, office document formats and office applications. ADOD provides both an “ADOD Assessment Framework” and a suite of practical easy-to-use support documents that are intended to help users, purchasers and policy makers use and make decisions about office applications. Currently, ADOD is based primarily on the WCAG 2.0 and ATAG 1.0 Recommendations of the W3C.
Relationship between ADOD and WCAG 2.0/ATAG 1.0
ADOD Supporting Documents
Glossary of ADOD-Specific Terms
Other Resources Consulted:
Digital office documents (or simply “office documents”), whether they are produced by “traditional” desktop office applications (e.g., Microsoft Office, Corel WordPerfect, OpenOffice, Apple iWork, etc.) or web-based applications (e.g., Google Docs, Microsoft “Office Web Apps”, etc.) remain a critical means of communication in domains as diverse as commerce, education, civic engagement and public governance. This has been generally positive for accessibility because digital documents, unlike their printed counterparts, have the potential to be accessible to the millions of individuals globally who face barriers to using print. This includes individuals who are blind, have compromised vision, have dyslexia, cannot turn pages or handle paper due to motor restrictions, or who face cognitive access or literacy barriers.
Unfortunately, despite this potential and despite legislative and policy commitments to equal access, many office documents produced globally are still not prepared inclusively. Factors contributing to this situation include the still under-developed state of accessibility support (e.g., accessibility checkers) in office applications and a general lack of awareness and knowledge by users of the accessibility features that are already present in these applications.
The Accessible Digital Office Documents (ADOD) Project provides a framework for assessing the accessibility of office documents and the accessibility support provided by office applications. ADOD is based on the accessibility guidance provided for Web content and Web content authoring tools by the W3C-WAI Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0) and Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines (ATAG 1.0).
ADOD is comprised of the “ADOD Assessment Framework” and a suite of supporting documents.
The ADOD Assessment Framework specifically targets office documents, which are defined as computer documents that are:
ADOD Assessment Framework does not simply apply to any document produced by an office application using an office document format. This is an important distinction because office document formats and office applications have been extended over the years to allow the creation of content with many of the same dynamic and interactive features as web content technologies offer (e.g., hyperlinking to other resources, multimedia support, and programmability). When office document formats are used to create dynamic and/or interactive content (whether or not for the Web), WCAG 2.0 rather than the ADOD Assessment Framework should be consulted to assess accessibility.
Since full inclusion includes allowing everyone to be both consumers and producers of content, the ADOD Assessment Framework addresses the question of office document accessibility from several perspectives:
Accessibility of office documents
Accessibility of Office Document Formats
Accessibility of Office Application User Interfaces
Support for Authoring Accessible Office Documents
The supporting documents will focus primarily on three types of office documents:
Note re: Presentations: Of the three types of office documents, presentations are the most likely to make use of dynamic or interactive content (e.g., audio, video, multimedia, animations, hyperlinks to other resources, etc.). When this is the case, WCAG 2.0 should be used to assess accessibility, rather than ADOD’s Assessment Framework.
Note re: Document editing is not considered “dynamic/interactive” content: One of the typical features of office documents is that they are often editable and during editing, a certain amount of interactivity and dynamism may occur (e.g., the document updates to reflect the user’s last entry, when the use updates a spreadsheet cell other cells may also update). However, ADOD does not consider changes caused by editing an office document to constitute interactive/dynamic content.
The W3C-WAI Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0) and W3C-WAI Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines (ATAG 1.0*) provide open, comprehensive and respected guidance on how to develop accessible web content and accessible web content authoring tools. The ADOD Assessment Framework is an attempt to usefully apply these guidelines to the context of office documents/application with as little “adjustment” as possible.
The adjustments are necessary because simply applying WCAG 2.0 and ATAG 1.0 to the context of office documents/applications has several drawbacks:
At the same time, in order to reduce the risk of “fragmenting” the guidance provided to office application developers, who have only a limited budget for maintaining and improving of accessibility features, ADOD:
* At the time of writing, ATAG 1.0 is the current Recommendation of W3C; ATAG 2.0 is under development.
ADOD includes several sets of Supporting Documents:
Here is the list of Support Documents again, along with the relevant audiences:
(1) Authoring Techniques for Accessible Office Documents (specific to each particular office application)
(2) Assessments of Support for Creating Accessible Office Documents
(3) Assessments the Accessibility of Office Application User Interfaces
Since ADOD is essentially a “view” of WCAG 2.0 and ATAG 1.0 that is specific to office documents and office applications, an ADOD-specific conformance model is unnecessary. Instead, official conformance claims should be made to WCAG 2.0 (for office documents) and ATAG 1.0 (for office applications), noting that any Web-specific wording has been interpreted for an office document/application context.
If the document or application meets the criteria for being an office document or office application under the ADOD definition (i.e., used by people, text-based, fully printable, self-contained, and is typical of office-style workflows) then “Not Applicable” can be entered for all of the WCAG 2.0/ATAG 1.0 success criteria that are left out of the ADOD Assessment Framework.
Terms specific to WCAG 2.0 and ATAG 1.0 are defined in those Recommendations.
Note: This purposefully excludes most documents making use of dynamic and interactive content (audio, video, hyperlinks to other resources, forms, programmability, etc.), since the accessibility of these are better assessed using WCAG 2.0. ADOD does, however, cover some dynamic content (animations, audio and video) in the context of presentations.
This document was produced as part of the Accessible Digital Office Document (ADOD) Project (http://adod.idrc.ocad.ca/).
This project has been developed by the Inclusive Design Research Centre, OCAD University as part of an EnAbling Change Partnership project with the Government of Ontario and UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization).
Copyright © 2010 Inclusive Design Research Centre, OCAD University
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