11.05.2011 -

UNESCO supports efforts to make office documents accessible

UNESCO has partnered with the Inclusive Design Research Centre (IDRC) at the Ontario College of Art and Design (OCAD University) in Toronto, Canada, and the Government of Ontario to develop consolidated and publicly-reviewed guidance on how to create accessible office documents, using many of the most popular office suites.

Imagine that office software stopped functioning and all digital office documents sent and received could no longer be deciphered. What effect would this have on our ability to do a job and on the functioning of workplace? This is what a growing number of intended recipients and producers of digital office documents experience when such documents are not designed thoughtfully.


It would be difficult to overestimate the continued importance of office documents for daily communication. Even in the age of web and email, Word documents, Excel spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations continue to be current methods of communication.


But if the purpose of producing these office documents is effective communication, it is important to consider the millions of people with disabilities, a number that is rapidly growing in many countries due to a growing number of the elderly, ongoing conflicts and wars, accidences, poverty, etc. If office documents are created without accessibility supports, people will experience barriers not only to office environments, but also to education, social and economic opportunities in which these types of documents are used to communicate. On the other hand, accessibility improvements to office applications and to the documents that they are used to produce have an enormous potential to empower individuals economically and socially. These same improvements also make the documents easier to format, edit, file and search for everyone.


The guidance that UNESCO is developing in cooperation with its partners in order to address this issue is freely available on the <a target=_blank href="http://adod.idrc.ocad.ca/">Accessible Digital Office Document (ADOD) Project</a> website. It has the form of step-by-step, how-to-do guidelines that include many illustrations and helpful hints.


This guidance complements many other freely available resources on digital inclusion produced by IDRC, such as supports to create accessible web applications, open education resources and a global public inclusive infrastructure for all online interactions.


The ADOD Project has received a very positive feedback, and translations of the guidance are currently underway.

<- Back to: News articles
Back to top