The techniques described in this document apply both to OpenOffice Writer 3.4.0 and LibreOffice 184.108.40.206. There are sometimes minor differences in the toolbars and dialogs between the two office suites, but these differences do not require different instructions.
At the time of testing (July 2013), Writer provides a set of accessibility features that is sufficient to enable the production of accessible digital office documents. An accessibility checking feature is available by installing the AccessODF extension.
Editor’s note: For later versions of OpenOffice Writer and LibreOffice, the accessibility checking features made available through AccessODF is no longer stable (tested on OpenOffice 4.1.7 and LibreOffice 220.127.116.11).
We recommended using other applications, such as current versions of Microsoft Word, which has a robust suite of tools available for creating accessible documents.
This guide is intended to be used for documents that are:
- Intended to be used by people (i.e., not computer code),
- Text-based (i.e., not simply images, although they may contain images),
- Fully printable (i.e., where dynamic features are limited to automatic page numbering, table of contents, etc. and do not include audio, video, or embedded interactivity),
- Self-contained (i.e., without hyperlinks to other documents, unlike web content), and
- Typical of office-style workflows (Reports, letters, memos, budgets, presentations, etc.).
If you are creating forms, web pages, applications, or other dynamic and/or interactive content, these techniques will still be useful to you, but you should also consult the W3C-WAI Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0) because these are specifically designed to provide guidance for highly dynamic and/or interactive content.
The default file format for Writer is Open Document Text (ODT). In addition, Writer offers many other word processor and web format saving options. Most of these have not been checked for accessibility, but some information and/or instructions are available for the following formats in Technique 12.
We have tried to formulate these techniques so that they are useful to all authors, regardless of whether they use a mouse. However, for clarity there are several instances where mouse-only language is used. Below are the mouse-only terms and their keyboard alternatives:
- *Right-click: To right-click with the keyboard, select the object using the Shift+Arrow keys and then press either (1) the “Right-Click” key (some keyboard have this to the right of the spacebar) or Shift+F10.
Several techniques refer to the Styles and Formatting dialog. By default, this is a floating dialog but it can also be docked, so it becomes a panel. When the dialog or panel is open, keyboard users can navigate to it using the key F6. The same applies to the Navigator, which can either float over the editing area or be docked next to it.
Disclaimer and Testing Details:
- Following these techniques will increase the accessibility of your documents, but it does not guarantee accessibility to any specific disability groups. In cases where more certainty is required, it is recommended that you test the office documents with end users with disabilities, including screen reader users.
- The application-specific steps and screenshots in this document were created using Writer (ver. 3.4.0, Windows 7, 32 bits, July 2013) while creating an ODT document.
- This document is provided for information purposes only and is neither a recommendation nor a guarantee of results. If errors are found, please report them to: firstname.lastname@example.org.