Welcome to Day 56 of 365 Ideas for Office 365, where today we will be looking at Sway’s accessibility features, as well as other settings. Sway was designed through and through for accessibility and differentiation. We have previously considered the fundamental advantage of using artificial intelligence for the design features, leaving students to focus on the content. We also have looked at utilizing either the built-in templates or the ability to create from a topic with an AI-designed outline to scaffold support for students needing help with structure or just getting started. Then we discussed the advantages of having students start writing and creating in Word and transforming that document into a Sway.
So it makes sense that there is an accessibility checker in Sway (like there is in all of the Microsoft Office tools). There is also an accessibility view and they are both found under the ellipses (…) in the top right corner of Sway. Clicking there gives you all these options.
Let’s work our way down. Naturally, My Sways takes you to your Sway homepage featuring your list of Sways. Create new open a new, blank Sway in edit mode. (You’ll see the blank title card.) Save as a template adds it to your list of templates in addition to the ones provided by Microsoft.
Printing a Sway
You can print a Sway if you want to, although it is clearly designed to be accessed digitally. If you do print it, it converts it to a PDF, but also gives you a 2-step backup plan if you don’t like the results.
Export a Sway
And to export it to Word, use the next item on the list, Export.
There is a small list of settings, including choosing a language, “text directions” (align text to the left or right margin), and permissions for those with a viewing link. Do you want them to be able to make their own copy? Can they print or export your Sway? Can they change the layout? (Vertical, horizontal or slide views) Finally, you can also turn on autoplay and set a time to advance from one card to another, with or without looping. This is ideal for situations like a science project or National History Day display so your Sway will continuously play for visitors to your display.
Now we get to our main topic- accessibility. The accessibility checker goes through your Sway to alert you to issues of, well, accessibility you need to address. For example, my simple Orca Whales Sway does not have alternate text for screen readers for both images. Alt Text is what the screen reader says aloud when the user hovers over an image. It should describe what is in the image for a blind or visually impaired viewer. It also suggests that I fix that “naked hyperlink”- the one that just has the actual url, instead of sensible text that tells what it links to.
The link at the bottom of the Accessibility Checker gives proactive tips for designing Sways that are accessible.
Designing for Accessibility
Accessibility takes into account issues such as contrast between text and background colors, headings to show organizational structure, avoiding italics, ALL CAPS and underlining, descriptive url links, and alt text for images and closed captions for videos.
In addition to helping you make your Sway accessible to all viewers, you can also choose to display your Sway in Accessibility View.
Here’s how accessibility View compares to regular view.
Note that as a viewer I also have access to accessibility view under the ellipses. Up to today we looked at how Sway makes creating presentations more accessible to students. Now you know how to make Sways themselves accessible to viewers.
Want to learn more about Microsoft’s commitment to accessibility? Check out this Sway!