Post Archive

Aurora’s CEO Appears on Bytemarks Cafe

President and CEO, Trip Rems, appeared on Hawaii Public Radio’s Bytemarks Cafe on July 12, 2023. The program highlighted assistive technology and some of the challenges in making digital content accessible for people with disabilities. The program was hosted by Burt Lum of Hawaii Public Radio (HPR).

Check out a recording of the program here

12th Annual Global Accessibility Awareness Day

Thursday, May 18th marks the 12th anniversary of Global Accessibility Awareness Day. The purpose of GAAD is to get everyone talking, thinking and learning about digital access/inclusion and people with different disabilities.

In recognition of the 12th Annual Global Accessibility Awareness Day, we’ve compiled a short list of resources to help you take the first steps to making your website / digital content accessible for people with disabilities:

Its never too late to take the first step to making your content accessible for people with disabilities. Get started today with a free consultation


Aurora Design and Consulting Exhibits at the Pacific Rim International Conference

The 38th Annual Pacific Rim International Conference on Disability and Diversity wrapped up on March 7, 2023. Each year the Pac Rim conference attracts educators, policy makers, researchers, consumers and others to Honolulu, Hawaii.

This was the first in-person conference since the COVID-19 pandemic. Aurora Design and Consulting participated as an exhibitor at the conference.

Quick Tips for Keeping Your WordPress Website Secure

WordPress is one of the most popular Content Management Systems with over 30 million websites running on this platform. With so many sites running WordPress, it is a frequent target for hackers and spam bots. To ensure the security of your WordPress site, we recommend keeping your website up-to-date, installing a security plugin, and making regular backups of website data.

Keep WordPress Core, Plugins and Themes up to-date

Regular security updates are released for WordPress Core, Plugins and Themes. Once vulnerabilities have been released to the public, hackers can analyze new code to discover and exploit vulnerabilities in WordPress. To ensure the security of your website, it is critical to update your website in a timely manner.

You can also subscribe to receive weekly security updates from iThemes Security.

Install and Configure a Security Plugin for WordPress

Security plugins offer an extra layer of security protection for your website including: regular website and database backups, login protection, file protection, and other features. Many WordPress security plugins offer both free and premium versions so that you can test drive the plugin and decide if you need more features.
If you are looking for a free security plugin, iThemes Security plugin is an excellent choice, and offers multi-factor authentication, user password policies, file change detection and protection, and more features.

Make Regular Backups of Your Website & Database

Backups ensure that you can revert your website to a previous state in the event of a crash or other event. We recommend choosing a Managed WordPress hosting package which includes regular automatic backups for convenience and security. Many hosts offer regular backups for free or for an additional charge.

If your host does not offer regular backups, we recommend installing and configuring a WordPress backup utility. Some WordPress backup plugins (i.e. Updraft Plus) include a free version that you can test on your website:

Ensure that Your Website is Running the Latest Version of PHP

PHP, or Hypertext Processor, is an open-source programming language used for web applications and content management systems (i.e. WordPress & Drupal CMS). PHP is regularly updated for security, and to maximize efficiency and performance.

To ensure the security and operability of your website, it is important to regularly update your web server to run the latest stable and supported version of PHP. You can check the current supported versions of PHP here: .

Need Help Updating Your Website?

Aurora is a full-service website solutions provider. We offer affordable maintenance and support services for WordPress and Drupal CMS. Please contact us for more information.

Everything You Need to Know about Voluntary Product Accessibility Templates (VPAT®)

What is a Voluntary Product Accessibility Template?

The Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (or VPAT®) is the industry standard format for documenting accessibility conformance of information and communications technology (ICT) products and services. The VPAT report format was developed by the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI) and is offered free-of-charge for businesses and organizations looking to document accessibility conformance of their products.

There are four versions of the Voluntary Product Accessibility template:

Voluntary Product Accessibility templates for Section 508 & WCAG conformance are available for download on the ITI website: .

Do I need a VPAT?

You’ll need a completed VPAT if you plan to sell products / services directly to the Federal government. Also, organizations that receive Federal funding are required to ensure that products purchased using Federal funds are accessible for Assistive technology users.

Also, many states and universities now require a VPAT® when using state funds to purchase information and communication technology (ICT). For more information about state accessibility standards, please visit the Section 508 website: .

We recommend that businesses that sell products or services to a diverse market invest in developing a Comprehensive Accessibility Report (a completed VPAT) to help buyers understand the accessibility features and limitations of their products.

What type of VPAT® is right for my business /organization?

The choice of format for the Voluntary Product Accessibility template would depend on a number of factors including:

  • Business jurisdiction / location.
  • Location of markets where products/services are offered.
  • Type of client (i.e., government agency, business, non-profit organization), etc.

Here is a breakdown of our recommendations:

  • VPAT 2.4 Rev 508 – suitable for businesses and agencies that are required to comply with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act (Revised Standard). This would include businesses/agencies that receive federal funds.
  • VPAT 2.4 Rev EU – suitable for companies doing business in the European Union (EN 301 549), or with a significant business presence in the EU.
  • VPAT 2.4 Rev WCAG – suitable for businesses looking to comply with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0 & WCAG 2.1). This would include retailers and other businesses looking to comply with ADA Title III.
  • VPAT 2.4 INT – suitable for businesses and agencies looking to comply with Section 508, WCAG, and EU accessibility standards.

Most of our clients operate in the United States and use the revised Section 508 and revised WCAG VPAT formats.

What is the process to secure a VPAT?

If you have an accessibility expert in house, you can simply download the appropriate VPAT template from the ITI website and complete it using accessibility information that your team has compiled through testing and development of your website or app.

If you do not have an accessibility expert in-house, we recommend completing a formal conformance evaluation of your website / app to assess compatibility of your product with assistive technology devices. A conformance evaluation involves testing your product with both automated and manual tools (including a screen reader) to verify and document conformance with Section 508 and/or the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).

At Aurora, we can assist you with a formal accessibility conformance evaluation of your product/service, and accessibility documentation of accessibility compliance (including a completed VPAT / Accessibility Conformance Report).

Need Help?

Need help with a Voluntary Accessibility Template? Please contact us or request a quote today.

Global Accessibility Awareness Day 2022

Global Accessibility Awareness Day

Aurora Design and Consulting celebrates Global Accessibility Awareness Day on May 19, 2022. Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) is intended to increase awareness and dialog around accessibility issues.

In recognition of accessibility awareness day, we’ve assembled some resources and links to help you get started:

Accessibility Resources

Things that you can do

Aurora is committed to helping you achieve your accessibility compliance goals. We offer website accessibility audits, accessibility training, direct support, video captioning and other services to help raise awareness and build organizational capacity for accessibility.

Need Help?

Need help implementing an accessibility conformance plan? Request a quote today.

US Justice Department Provides New Guidance on Website Accessibility

The US Department of Justice has issued new guidance on website accessibility as it relates to Title II and Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The new guidance highlights the importance of website accessibility, and what businesses and agencies can do to achieve compliance.

Tips for Publishing Accessible PowerPoint Presentations

Microsoft PowerPoint is an excellent choice for publishing accessible presentations for all audiences (including people with disabilities). As with most Microsoft products, its important to use the latest version of PowerPoint (i.e. Office 2021 or Office 365) to ensure that you are getting all of the latest accessibility features including:

  • Accessible templates/themes for your presentations.
  • Built-in accessibility checker to quickly identify accessibility errors.
  • Tools and resources for publishing accessible presentations.

Here are some quick tips to help you get started with accessible publishing in PowerPoint

Use PowerPoint Themes to Format your Presentation

PowerPoint includes bundled themes which are pre-formatted for accessibility. Slide design templates include basic formatting for accessibility including: headings, list formatting, etc. You can access PowerPoint themes by selecting the Design tab in PowerPoint and choosing “More” under the Themes panel.

Important Note about Themes – When choosing a theme, some color combinations may not be fully accessible for people with low vision. We recommend selecting a theme with good color contrast (text) or updating theme colors to ensure accessibility for low vision users.

Screenshot showing theme options in MS PowerPoint

Title Your Presentation

Titling your presentation ensures that AT users will hear a description when opening your presentation. You can give your presentation a title by selecting File → File Info in PowerPoint, and adding your title under “File Properties”.

Screenshot showing File Properties in MS PowerPoint

Title Each Slide in Your Presentation

PowerPoint themes include a title box for your slide title. Be sure to enter a title for each slide in your presentation.

Screenshot showing Slide title in MS PowerPoint

Add Alternate Text Descriptions for Images

Alternate text descriptions are read in place of images by screen readers and other assistive technology devices. All images that convey information in your presentation should include alternate text descriptions. You can add alternate text to images in your presentation, by right clicking on the image, and selecting “Edit Alt Text”.

Screenshot showing image properties in MS PowerPoint

Identify Decorative Images

Use the “Mark as Decorative” option in the Alt Text pane to identify images that should be ignored by assistive technology devices.

Screenshot showing image properties panel with decorative image checkbox highlighted

Add a Header Row for Data Tables

Tables can be a challenge for AT users to navigate and understand. We recommend using tables only for displaying tabular data and avoiding table layouts for visual formatting.

To add a data table in PowerPoint, select Insert a Table, and select the number of rows and columns to add.

Screenshot showing Insert Table pane in MS PowerPoint

Once you have added your table, select the table and choose “Table Design” from the main menu. In the Table Design panel, ensure that the “Header Row” option is selected.

Screenshot showing table design properties in MS PowerPoint

Use Bullet and Numbered Paragraph Styles for Lists

Bullet and numbered list styles are included in the paragraph panel in PowerPoint. You can add a new list by selecting a text box and choosing the Bullet or Numbered list option in PowerPoint (under the home tab).

Screenshot showing list formatting options in MS PowerPoint

Use the Built-In Accessibility Checker in PowerPoint

PowerPoint includes a built-in accessibility checker to help you quickly identify and resolve accessibility errors in your presentation. You can run the accessibility checker while editing your document by selecting Review → Check Accessibility in PowerPoint.

Screenshot showing Accessibility Checker in MS PowerPoint

Verify the Order of Elements in Your Slides Using the Selection Pane

The selection pane allows you to arrange the order of elements in your slides to match the visual reading order. You can access the selection pane by selecting the “Home” tab and choosing “Selection pane” under “Arrange”.

Screenshot showing selection pane in MS PowerPoint

Please Note: the order of elements in the selection page is reversed—so items at the bottom of the selection pane will be read first.

More Tips for Accessibility

  • Ensure adequate contrast for slide text. You can check accessible color combinations by using Web-AIMs Color Contrast Checker.
  • Avoid inserting video and audio content directly in PowerPoint files. Instead, provide a link to videos with captions and/or audio description in YouTube, Vimeo or other video hosting platform.
  • Ensure that text is sufficiently large for low vision users. Generally, 24pt is a good starting point for visual presentations.
  • Avoid using slide transitions or animation–as these might confuse AT users.
  • If you intend to distribute your presentation online, be sure to covert your file to tagged PDF format (using the latest version of Adobe Acrobat Professional).

Need Help?

Aurora provides training and direct support to help you reach your accessibility compliance goals. Contact us today for a free consultation, or request a quote for training and professional development solutions.

Global Accessibility Awareness Day

May 19th is Global Accessibility Awareness Day

Global Accessibility Awareness Day

At Aurora Design and Consulting, our mission is to make the world a more accessible place for people of all abilities. We recognize and celebrate Global Accessibility Awareness Day, and hope to use this day as an opportunity to educate our clients and the community about the importance of accessibility in all that we do.

Accessibility, first and foremost, is about inclusion. By making technology accessible, we are opening up opportunities for people of all abilities and backgrounds. Here are some things that you can do to contribute to a more accessible world:

Tips for Accessibility Awareness Day

  1. Check your website for accessibility using Web-AIM’s Wave Accessibility Evaluation Tool.
  2. Develop an accessibility plan for your organization. Check out our conformance planning services for more information
  3. Provide captions and a media alternative for prerecorded video and multimedia content. If you need help with captioning, please check out our video captioning services.
  4. Test your documents with built-in accessibility checkers, and address any accessibility errors:
  5. Get accessibility training to build capacity and expertise within your organization.
  6. Get direct support to help ease the transition to accessibility compliance.

Aurora is committed to helping you achieve your accessibility compliance goals. We offer website accessibility audits, accessibility training, direct support, video captioning and other services to help raise awareness and build organizational capacity for accessibility.

If you have questions about website accessibility, or need help planning for accessibility compliance, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Need Help?

Need help implementing an accessibility conformance plan? Request a quote today.

Quick Tips for Publishing Accessible Word Documents

When publishing documents for the Web or electronic distribution, its critical to ensure that they are fully accessible for assistive technology (AT) users. Accessible documents work well with AT devices such as screen readers, braille displays, etc., and are free from accessibility barriers such as reading order problems, missing alternate text descriptions, and other errors. Check out the tips below for more information about accessible publishing techniques for MS Word.

Please note: the instructions and screenshot provided are for the latest version of Microsoft Word for Windows. If you are using MacOS or an earlier version of MS Word, please consult documentation for the version of Office/Word that you are using.

Add a Title for Your Documents

The document title is the first thing that is read when an AT user opens your document. To ensure that the purpose of your document is clear, it’s important to include a descriptive title for AT users.

You can add a title for your documents in Word by selecting File → File Info and adding a descriptive title under Properties.

Screenshot of MS Word with File Properties highlighted

Use Heading Styles to Structure Your Documents

Headings are important to help AT users understand the structure of your documents. Complex documents may include many heading levels including: Heading 1, Heading 2, Heading 3, etc. When using headings, it’s important to ensure that they are nested correctly. Heading 2 should be used for subheadings under Heading 1, Heading 3 should be used for subheadings of Heading 2, and so on.

Microsoft Word includes predefined styles for headings in the Styles panel that are easily customizable. Check out the screenshot below for more information.

Screenshot from Microsoft Word with styles panel expanded

Provide Alternate Text Descriptions for Images

Images that convey information should include an alternate text description for assistive technology users. Alternate text should be short (if possible), but sufficiently descriptive to fully explain the purpose and context of images in your documents.

To add alternate text for an image, right-click on the image and select “Edit Alt Text”. Add a description in the Alt Text Task pane, or check the box “Mark as decorative” for decorative images.

Screenshot from Microsoft Word with alt text panel highlighted

Format Lists using Paragraph Styles in Word

List formatting is essential to ensure that AT users understand the structure and relationship of lists in your document. When lists are formatted correctly, AT users are alerted to the structure of lists including the type of list, number of list items, etc.

MS Word includes paragraph styles for ordered and unordered lists. Please see the screenshot below of the Paragraph styles panel with Bullet and Numbered lists.

Screenshot of Microsoft Word with Bullet list styles highlighted

Avoid Using Tables for Layout and Include a Header Row for Data Tables

Tables can be difficult or impossible to navigate for assistive technology users. To ensure that AT users can navigate your tables, its essential to reserve table layouts for data tables, and use appropriate markup for AT users.

Microsoft Word includes formatting options for data tables. For simple tables, ensure that the option to make the first row a header row is checked under Table Properties. Also, we recommend unchecking “Allow row to split across pages”.

Screenshot from Microsoft Word with Table properties dialog highlighted

Use Columns Instead of Text Boxes to Preserve Reading Order

Documents with many text boxes can be difficult to understand, as the reading order of your document might not match the visual reading order for sighted users. To ensure the correct reading order for your documents, we recommend using columns (wherever possible) to ensure the correct reading order for AT users.

You can format your document using columns, by selecting Layout → Columns in Word.

Screenshot from Microsoft Word with column layouts menu expanded

Use the Accessibility Checker in MS Word to Scan Your Documents for Accessibility Errors

Microsoft Word comes with a built-in accessibility checker that can help you quickly and easily identify accessibility errors in your documents. The accessibility checker is an automated tool which scans your documents for accessibility errors and presents errors and warnings in the accessibility Task pane.

You can activate the checker in Word by selecting Review → Check Accessibility in Word.

Screenshot from Microsoft Word with accessibility checker highlighted


Microsoft Word includes many great features for authoring accessible documents. By taking a few minutes to add formatting and scan your documents for accessibility, you can make your documents more accessible for AT users.

The list of techniques above is not exhaustive but is a great starting point for publishing accessible documents in MS Word. If you are interested in a comprehensive training on document publishing techniques, please check out our training solutions for more information.

Need Help?

Aurora provides training and direct support to help you reach your accessibility compliance goals. Contact us today for a free consultation, or request a quote for training and professional development solutions.

Request a Quote