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another technology tip

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By: mr estin talavera


this is a tip from Mr. Taylor.
If you are using VoiceOver on a Macintosh computer, start think about alternatives to Microsoft Office. This article helps explain the details. Bob t.



MS Office for the Mac and Accessibility
UPDATE: April 15, 2011 – Microsoft has released Service Pack 1 (SP1) for Office for Mac – version 2011. I am happy to report that the new version now has the capacity for users to add alternative text to images. I’d like to take credit for this by assuming that Microsoft reads my blog, but I doubt that. In any case, this is a strong positive step.

Now the bad news: MS Office for Mac still does not fully work with VoiceOver. VoiceOver will read the toolbars and their content, and says that it is “interacting with document pane view” but that’s all. VoiceOver cannot read the content of the document pane, thus the product is still not accessible.

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I was hoping that with my recent purchase of the latest version of MS Office for Mac – version 2011 – I would be happily telling you about the outstanding accessibility features of the new version. I was hoping that unlike its predecessor, MS Office for Mac 2008, there would now be the ability to add alternative descriptions to images (see below for an explanation as to why alternative descriptions are important) and that when converting or saving documents made by the new version, the PDFs and HTML pages created would all be accessible. I was sure that given the fact that this is a brand new version of Office it would work fluidly and fully with the Mac OSX native screen reader VoiceOver, a built-in feature in Mac OS since version 10.4 (Tiger) in 2005, nearly SIX YEARS AGO.

But no, I can’t report any of this because, in terms of accessibility for people with disabilities, Microsoft Office for the Mac – 2011 is a complete failure. Not only can you not make accessible documents with this product, it does not work with VoiceOver. That’s right; you cannot read documents created in MS Office for Mac 2001 with VoiceOver.

A VPAT – Voluntary Product Accessibility Template – “is a tool used to document a product’s conformance with the accessibility standards under Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. The purpose of the VPAT is to assist Federal contracting officials and other buyers in making preliminary assessments regarding the availability of commercial ‘Electronic and Information Technology’ products and services with features that support accessibility” (quoted source itic.org). The VPAT, as the name implies, is a voluntary statement made by the manufacturer regarding their own evaluation of their product in terms of how it meets the Section 508 requirements. In a rather bizarre finding, the VPAT for MS Office for Mac -2011 proudly notes that VoiceOver effectively works with the toolbars and “the ribbon” of MS Office for Mac 2011.

Unfortunately, Apple’s own office suite, iWork, isn’t much better when it comes to making accessible documents. iWork ’09, the latest iteration, does not have the capacity to make accessible documents either. Specifically, there is no way to add alternative descriptions to images or other objects inserted in a document.

But the good news is that at least VoiceOver can read the contents of documents made in iWorks in addition to working with all of the menus and toolbars.

If you need a word processor, or spreadsheet, or presentation software for your Mac, save your money and download the latest version of open source solution LibreOffice (3.3.0). Oh, if you don’t speak Spanish, the word “Libre” means “Free,” as in no dinero!
LibreOffice (v 3.3.0 for the Mac) does have the capacity to add Alternative Descriptions to image and works completely with VoiceOver. That said, when converting your LibreOffice documents to other formats, you will need to test them to make sure all of the accessibility features have been carried over.
Robert G Taylor, Ed.S

By: mr estin talavera


I need to look in to this program that is mentioned above. If true then this means apple has a good productivity programs and should be looked in to further.