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Is MS Excel considered web content?

From: David MacDonald <david100@sympatico.ca>
Date: Tue, 10 May 2011 17:46:20 -0400
Message-ID: <BLU0-SMTP282493C50107DE932952F8FE870@phx.gbl>
To: "'List WAI GL'" <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
CC: "'Gregg Vanderheiden'" <gv@trace.wisc.edu>, "'Loretta Guarino Reid'" <lorettaguarino@google.com>, "'Judy Brewer'" <jbrewer@w3.org>
It’s long been bantered around whether MS Word documents and MS Excel documents posted online are considered web content. It probably depends on the context, which we’ve never defined, that I’m aware of. Is Excel a user agent... whew!... now there’s a debate... sure it could be... I guess.


I’m tasked with addressing the accessibility of a huge set of financial documents that are online, 10 volumes of over 3,300 pages and over 500 tables of financial data, in PDF format for a government agency. The PDF financial tables and accompanying text were created from Ventura, which imported them using a process that converts spreadsheets into text for publication of hard copy. The “speadsheets” as a result, after being imported are no longer tabular but rather text, comma delimited... no way to turn them into tables in the PDF tag tree, and not screen reader accessible. So they violate 1.3.1, and an incredible burden of over 5 years to migrate.


In the meantime, I’m recommending they adapt the original Excel spreadsheets and post them as an alternative, the best way to give access to the financial data to a screen reader user (with a bunch of other preparation details I’ll leave out here).


However, we don’t have any techniques for Excel, and that caused them to question of whether it is actually web content.


If it’s not web content, then is it a conforming alternative? If not an alternative, can it pass WCAG, because alternatives have to be content....




David MacDonald


Received on Tuesday, 10 May 2011 21:47:02 UTC

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