If there was ever a time to consider dipping the toe in the water and getting started with using accessible documents, it should be with the annual report.
It’s reporting season and the annual report is a crucial ‘first impression’ of your organisation. Its importance is measured by the fact that every government agency, not-for-profit organisation and publicly listed company is required to create one. And with it conveying so much important information such as financial performance, strategy, products and service offerings, values and culture and much more, it’s a good opportunity to prioritise making it accessible.
Remarkably, very few annual reports are completely accessible. Even if the Chairman’s report and the CEO’s report are accessible, how do you make your organisation’s financial information and tables accessible? Media Access Australia’s Deputy CEO Natalie Collins shares some tips on making that all-important annual report accessible.
Engage your auditors
Here at Access iQ™, we have worked with our auditors to make our Media Access Australia Annual Report (PDF, 446.46 KB) accessible.
To begin with, your organisation’s management needs to be committed to creating an accessible document. From here it can be converted into an accessible PDF for download as well as to create an accessible HTML version online.
Your auditors play a big part; working with them can help make your job now and in the future easier when providing the document electronically or for online placement.
Here are some practical pointers to get you going:
- Notify your auditor well in advance of your annual report timetable and the need to create the accounts in an accessible version. The auditing process is done to strict standards, which will require you to gain the trust of your auditor in letting you work on the account documents.
- Work with your auditor by providing basic guidance on creating accessible accounts, making your job easier at the final stage. Basic accessibility steps they can use are:
- The use of correctly nested heading styles.
- The use of tables for tabular information; do not use them for formatting, e.g. to display content in columns
- Ensuring any tables have header rows and that the header rows are marked
- Using the Show/Hide control in Microsoft Word to display extra carriage returns and spaces, which can be replaced with appropriate paragraph spacing and section breaks.
Part of creating an accessible document is implementing best writing practice when using things like headings, links, lists and acronyms. Access iQ™ has a free resource on creating Accessible Word documents or you can have a look at A complete guide to web accessibility for content authors for practical information about creating accessible web content.
- When ready, ask that the accounts are delivered to you in Microsoft Word with no editing restrictions to allow for changes that need to be made.
- Be sure to follow up with your auditor with the final product to consolidate their own learning.
- Encourage them to create an accessible template for future production of annual reports.
- Remind the readers that creating the source file in an accessible format will allow for easy creation of accessible PDFs and HTML pages.
We can help
If you need some help making your annual report accessible contact us at Access iQ™. We can help with:
- Converting your existing annual report into an accessible document.
- Training in Accessible Content Writing so your staff can create accessible MS Word and PDF documents.
- Directing you to existing resources for content authors on our website.