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RE: Are word forms accessible?

From: Judy Christianson <judy@accessibilityexperts.ca>
Date: Wed, 1 Apr 2015 08:35:57 -0400
To: <lists@srinivasu.org>, "'Bart Simons'" <bart.simons@anysurfer.be>
Cc: "'WAI Interest Group'" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-ID: <!&!AAAAAAAAAAAYAAAAAAAAABYEk0HLJ1tOge4e0j3UT0HCgAAAEAAAACzXQv7JAL9Jh/VyShgMV0gBAAAAAA==@accessibilityexperts.ca>
Word forms can be made accessible and are preferred by some people over a
PDF. There are so many variables that need to be considered. Firstly, the
version of Word being used, the version of assistive technologies and

If a person who uses an assistive device and/or program has a lower version
of Word that used in the creation of the source document, there could be
barriers.  For example, if you are using Word 2010 and the person accessing
the information is using Word 2007, you need to consider what form fields
you are using. If you use the form fields in the developer ribbon in the
controls group, some of the form fields such as the checkbox will not be
accessible as it was not available in 2007.  You need to ensure you use the
legacy form fields as these are the ones which were available even in 2003.
By using the legacy tools you are a little more limited with the functions
of the form field.

Depending on the assistive program or device, the title/name field may not
always be read.

Another thing to consider is that once a person is in the form field mode,
they will not access any other information in the document, only what is in
the form fields. The alt text for the form fields will need to be very
clear.  If there is information in the document which is very important, you
may wish to consider having an instruction page or if sending an email have
instructions elsewhere.

You need to know who your audience is, who will be accessing the forms. If
it is for the staff, you may already know what technologies they use and it
will make it easier.  Some organizations may not have the privilege of know
who accesses their documents.

If you know who will be accessing your document, and everyone is using Word
2010, there is a way they can read everything in the document as well as
fill out the form fields.  The catch is, they all have to be using Word 2010
or higher.

If the organization wishes to have the documents in a certain program, there
are always ways around it.  Where there is a will, there is a way.

It is fine to say that everyone should have the latest and greatest of
technologies or programs. The reality is that not everyone can afford those
programs or technologies. If a person who uses an assistive technology or
program is getting assistance with the purchase of the programs, they may
not have a choice as to when they get upgraded.  For example, we have one of
our clients who is on such a program gets an upgrade every 5 years.  They
still have another half a year before they will get the funding for the
newer version. As you all know, there is so much that has happened in the
last 5 years. It is easy sometimes to say "Just get the newer version",
sometimes they cannot afford it. Even though there are free software
upgrades such as Adobe Reader, if the person upgrades to the newer version
it may interfere with the older version assistive program.


-----Original Message-----
From: lists@srinivasu.org [mailto:lists@srinivasu.org] 
Sent: April-01-15 7:31 AM
To: Bart Simons
Cc: WAI Interest Group
Subject: Re: Are word forms accessible?

Mathavi -
If your client agrees, it would be good to have fillable PDF forms than word
forms. Those can be made accessible too. 

Srinivasu Chakravarthula | @csrinivasu
Sent from my iPhone 5C

> On 01-Apr-2015, at 11:42, Bart Simons <bart.simons@anysurfer.be> wrote:
> Hello,
> Form fields in Word are problematic, not just for JAWS-users but for
keyboard users in general.
> If you use form fields and you don't protect the document, the form fields
are not accessible for keyboard users: impossible to move focus to them,
impossible to check a check box with the space bar etc.
> If you use form fields and you do protect the document, focus will be
trapped inside the form fields. It is impossible to move the cursor outside
the form. You cannot activate links elsewhere in the document, you cannot
select any text from the document, Jaws-users indeed don't have access to
the document at all.
> In my opinion Word is not the right tool for forms of any kind.
> Regards
> Bart Simons
> AnySurfer
> Op 1/04/2015 1:33, Madhavi Herle schreef:
>> Hello everyone,
>> We are creating letter/memo templates in word. Client wants to know if
form fields are accessible. The main purpose of the templates is to ensure
the users only fill the required sections and not change the format of the
document. There is no database integration required.
>> I tried creating a word form with a few text fields. JAWS for some reason
reads the previous field name and then the field in focus. I have followed
the instructions provided by Freedom Scientific,
>> Please do let me know if I am doing something wrong. Your help is much
>> Kind regards,
>> Madhavi.
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Received on Wednesday, 1 April 2015 12:36:25 UTC

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