GWKB1029 : Adding Form Controls to Microsoft Word

Product: Window-Eyes
Author: Aaron Smith
Date Added: 01/19/2006
Last Modified: 01/19/2006

Window-Eyes will easily read Microsoft Word form controls when designed with accessibility in mind. Creating accessible documents often falls on the part of a sighted individual who may or may not be familiar with accessibility aids such as Window-Eyes. It is important, therefore, to have both a mouse oriented way of creating accessible Word forms, and a keyboard method so that both Window-Eyes users and non-Window-Eyes users can achieve the same goal: document accessibility.

Note: All of these instructions are written for use with Microsoft Word 2003. Although exact steps for other versions of Microsoft Word may vary, the concepts remain the same.

Creating Accessible Word Forms with the Mouse

The following example shows how to insert a form control into a Microsoft Word document, provide descriptive text for that control, and protect a document, all while using the mouse.

Inserting a Form Control

  1. Launch Word.
  2. Open the View menu.
  3. Select the Toolbars pulldown.
  4. Select the Forms toolbar.
  5. Select the Text Form Field button (ab|). This will place an edit box form control in the document.
  6. Right click the edit box form control, and select Properties.
  7. Select the Add Help Text button.
  8. In the Form Field Help Text dialog, enter text that describes the control into the "Type your own" edit box. For example, "First Name."
  9. Select OK.
  10. Select OK again.

These basic steps can be performed on any form control:

  • Add the control
  • Access the control's properties
  • Add help text.

Once a document has been completed, it must be protected in order for a Window-Eyes user to interact with the form.

Protecting a Document

  1. Open the Tools menu.
  2. Select Protect Document.
  3. Check the "Allow only this type of editing in the document" check box.
  4. Select Filling in form from the Editing Restrictions combo box.
  5. Select the "Yes, Start Enforcing Protection" button.
  6. Select OK to bypass the Password dialog.

Note that when a form is protected, Window-Eyes users will only be able to navigate between form controls. In other words, if additional text exists in the document describing the function of the form controls, that text will not be accessible while the document is protected. To avoid having the user switch back and forth between protected and unprotected (which may not even be possible if the document protection requires a password, and that password is unavailable to the user), make sure to add appropriately descriptive text to the form control. For example, if an edit box requires a number to be entered in a specific format, enter those instructions into the help text (i.e. "Please enter your social security number, excluding any dashes").

For more information on creating accessible Word documents, please visit: Microsoft Office Training: Create an accessible Office document.

Creating Accessible Word Forms with the Keyboard and Window-Eyes

The following example shows how to insert a form control into a Microsoft Word document, how to protect the document for reading, and how to unprotect the document for further editing all while using the keyboard and Window-Eyes. Note that Microsoft Word forms can only be navigated through (using TAB and SHIFT-TAB) when the document is protected, and can only be edited when unprotected.

Inserting a Form Control
  1. Launch Word.
  2. Open the View, Toolbars pulldown, and select Forms.
  3. Press ALT, followed by CTRL-TAB until you hear "Button, Edit Box."
  4. Press ENTER. Window-Eyes will say, "Enter field 1, edit box."
  5. Press the left arrow key once to place the cursor inside the edit box control. Nothing will be spoken as there is no text to read.
  6. Press SHIFT-F10 to bring up the context menu for the edit box.
  7. Press R for Properties.
  8. Press ALT-T to access the Add Help Text dialog box.
  9. Press ALT-T again to access the "Type your own" edit box.
  10. Enter the field name for the edit box. For example, "First Name."
  11. TAB to Ok and press ENTER.
  12. Press ENTER again to close the Text Form Field Options dialog. Window-Eyes will announce, "One field."
Protecting a Document
  1. Press ALT-T to open the Tools menu.
  2. Press P for Protect Document.
  3. TAB to the "Allow only this type of editing in the document" check box, and press SPACE bar to check it.
  4. TAB to the next combo box, and select Filling in form.
  5. TAB to the "Yes, Start Enforcing Protection" button, and press ENTER.
  6. Press ENTER to bypass the Password dialog.
  7. Window-Eyes will announce, "Edit Box, First Name."
Unprotecting a Document
  1. Press ALT-T for tools.
  2. Press P for Unprotect Document.