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Possible Purposes Include:
Use by multiple format suppliers to produce different formats.
Seamless conversion from one format to another, including conventional products (such as print to web).
Clients requesting a document by email or diskette.
In order for an information product to be quickly and easily adapted to any format upon request, it is strongly recommended you produce a full-text template. The template should be produced at the same time as the original conventional product. This saves time and money that would otherwise be spent later on conversion.
The template is an electronic text file with all visuals, including charts and illustrations, and multi-media components such as video and audio, fully explained in writing.
As a result, visual components become accessible to people who are blind or have low vision using, for example, Braille, audio and accessible web formats; while audio becomes accessible to people who are deaf or hard of hearing using, for example, captioning.
The template serves as the "script" for all formats and is therefore useful not only for multiple formats but also in converting one conventional format to another, such as print to the web.
No version of a product, including the conventional format, should be released until the template is ready (much in the same way a product would not be released until available in both official languages).
A full-text template should be produced for existing publications that are promoted.
Original authors to provide text explanations
The people who write the original product should be the same people writing the text explanations. This removes the task of others trying to provide an accurate interpretation.
Use table of contents to organize
The template organizes all text with table of content sections and not page numbers. This is because formats developed from the template will not have the same page numbering. Large print documents, for example, will have more pages than a conventional print product. Keep the listing of content as simple as possible.
Not all graphics require explanation
Graphics used for visual appeal, such as designer lines, do not require accompanying text. Many photographs, also used for visual appeal and which may not have particular relevance, can be given very short descriptions.
Identify the text explanations
Make clear what visual element a text explanation is for, and when the explanation begins and ends.
Charts, graphs, tables and maps
In explaining complicated visuals, first identify the format, such as "chart," then provide the title and purpose followed by the meaning of the data.
Use explanatory captions
In the case of captions, the full text explanation and original caption can be one in the same. The caption explains what is happening in the photograph or illustration.
Make reference if the explanation is in the text
It is not necessary to provide a separate text explanation if the explanation is already provided within the body of the publication text. In these cases, make a reference to the visual within the text.
Example of text explanation
To illustrate the practice of writing text explanations, here is a brief example.
Headline: Canada's population ages
Photograph One: Elderly man and woman standing in front of a younger couple.
Photograph One Caption: Statistics Canada estimates that one in four of us will be over age 65 by the year 2026.
The baby boomers - those born in the two decades after the Second World War - will have the most profound impact on Canada's demographics in the next 25 years.
According to Statistics Canada, in 2000, about one out of every eight people in the population was aged 65 and older.
Illustration One, Section A: Aging Population
Text description: This illustration shows the increase in older Canadians between 1970 and 2000, starting with one in 10 people over age 65 in 1970, one in ten in 1990 and one in eight in 2000.
End of text description.