This week, we are doing something a little different. Instead of teaching you how to access something using a screen reader, this week we will be focused on creating documents that will make navigating with a screen reader easier. We’ve written this week’s topic not only for you all (vision professionals) but also to be shared to others that may have questions about how to make their content accessible. These could be your learners’ teachers, employers, or anyone creating documents that do not already incorporate accessibility features such as headings.
What are Headings and Why are they important?
Let’s start with a little FAQ.
Q: What are headings?
A: Put simply, headings are titles and section titles on a computer. You can find headings on the internet, or word documents.
Q: Why are headings important for screen reader users?
A: Screen reader users use keyboard commands to navigate through documents and websites. One of those commands that is available to screen reader users is to jump from heading to heading. Imagine how much easier that would be on a long document. Without headings, the only option to jump quickly through a document is to navigate through each paragraph. In a document with headings, jumping to a section makes it so much faster for a screen reader user to find what they are looking for.
How do I create headings in my Microsoft Word document?
It is so easy. I promise. We’ll first teach you how to do this process with the mouse and then with key commands.
Adding Headings Using the Mouse
Place your cursor on the line that you’d like to make a heading. You do not have to select. Just place your cursor anywhere on the line.
In the “Home” Tab of the ribbon, click “Styles” then Heading 1, Heading 2, or Heading 3 etc.
If you’d like to keep the formatting the same, instead of clicking on Heading 1, 2, or 3, right click on the one you’d like and then click on “Update Heading to Match”.
But wait a minute, should I pick Heading 1, Heading 2, or Heading 3???
Well, as you can see there are different “levels” of heading.
Heading 1 is the title of the entire document. There should only be one heading at level 1. This allows screen reader users an option to jump right to the top of the page.
Heading 2 is a “section title”. This allows screen reader users to jump through the different sections of your document.
Heading 3 is the title of a section inside a section.
Heading 4 is the title of a section inside a section inside a section.
I think you get the point here.
Your Document may look something like this:
Now go ahead and make those headings on your document. By the second or third time you do this process, it will become second nature, and any screen reader users reading your document, their lives will be made so much easier.