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Creating Accessible Microsoft Documents


Creating accessible documents ensures that people using assistive technologies can read these documents. While online, people may use screen readers or magnifiers to access documents and the guidelines in this document ensure that these technologies will work more effectively. Please follow the guidelines below to create documents that will be easily accessed by all.

For more directions on creating accessible documents you can go to the Blackboard Organization - Accessibility Workshops. If you have any difficulty finding or accessing this org please contact the Technology Training Coordinator at ext. 2740 or Design Help in the library.

The Accessibility Checker

The Accessibility Checker is a panel, on the right hand side of your screen, which shows errors that will make your document difficult to access with assistive technology. It will also show warnings and tips so you can make your documents more accessible.

The Check Accessibility button, which opens the Accessibility Checker panel, is located on the Review tab in Word, Excel and PowerPoint 2019.

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It is also found on the File tab under Check for Issues in Word, Excel and PowerPoint 2019 as well as previous versions of Office.

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If you would like this button to be more handy, you can put it on your Home tab using the directions in the Accessibility How To section. It is recommended to leave the Accessibility Checker open while creating documents so any errors can be fixed immediately.

To make your documents accessible you need to:

  • Include alternative text with all visuals
  • Format images in line
  • Use meaningful hyperlink text and screentips
  • Ensure that color is not the only means of conveying information
  • Use sufficient contrast for text and background colors
  • Use built-in headings and styles to create lists, headings, and extra spacing
  • For tables, use a simple structure and specify column header information

Include alternative text with all visuals

Visual content includes

  • pictures
  • clip art
  • SmartArt graphics
  • shapes
  • groups
  • charts and tables
  • embedded objects
  • ink, and
  • videos 

Alt text helps people who cannot see the screen to understand what is important in images and other visuals. 

Alt text

Avoid using text in images as the sole method of conveying important information. If you must use an image with text in it, repeat that text in the document. In alt text, briefly describe the image and mention the existence of the text and its intent.

Add alt text to images

  1. Right-click an image.
  2. Select Format Picture
  3. Choose Layout & Properties.
  4. Select Alt Text.
  5. Type a description and a title.

Alt Text in images

The process for adding alt text to the other object is similar:

Add alt text to shapes, Smart Art and Charts

  1. Right click the shape, Smart Art or Chart
  2. From the menu choose Format Shape, Format Object or Format Chart Area
  3. In the pane choose Layout and Properties > Alt Text
  4. Enter a Title and Description

smartart

Add alt text to tables

  1. Add table to your document
  2. Right click inside table and choose Table Properties from the menu
  3. Select the Alt Text tab in the Table Properties dialog box
  4. Enter a title and description of the table. Be descriptive about what is contained in the table

alttexttables

Format Images Inline

Screen readers do not easily read images with wrapped text. Be sure to format images Inline

  1. Select the image to activate the Layout Options
  2. Click the Layout Options box
  3. Choose InLine with text from the layout options

If the picture is not where you would like it, you can move it around. As you move the picture you can see a dark vertical cursor that will show you where the picture is in relation to any text.

inlineimages

Use meaningful hyperlink text and ScreenTips

To determine whether hyperlink text makes sense as standalone information and whether it gives readers accurate information about the destination target, visually scan your document.

People who use screen readers sometimes scan a list of links. Links should convey clear and accurate information about the destination. For example, instead of linking to the text Click here, include the full title of the destination page.

  1. Select the text to which you want to add the hyperlink, and then right-click.
  2. Select Hyperlink.
    The text you selected displays in the Text to display This is the hyperlink text.
  3. If necessary, change the hyperlink text.
  4. In the Address box, enter the destination address for the hyperlink.
  5. Select the ScreenTip button and, in the ScreenTip text box, type a ScreenTip.

Adding Hyperlinks

Ensure that color is not the only means of conveying information

People who are blind, have low vision, or are colorblind might miss out on the meaning conveyed by particular colors. Be sure to

  • Add an underline to color-coded hyperlink text. That can help colorblind people know the text is linked even if they can’t see the color.
  • Add shapes if color is used to indicate status. For example, add a checkmark symbol  if green is used to indicate “pass” and an uppercase X  if red indicates, “fail”.

 

Use sufficient contrast for text and background colors

If your document has a high level of contrast between text and background, more people can see and use the content.

Use the Color Contrast analyzer (below) to check for contrast issues.

Color Contrast Analyzer

Use built-in headings and styles

To preserve tab order and to make it easier for screen readers to read your documents, use a logical heading order and the built-in formatting tools in Word.

Apply built-in headings

Be sure to organize headings in the prescribed logical order. Use Heading 1, Heading 2, and then Heading 3, rather than Heading 3, Heading 1, and then Heading 2. And, organize the information in your documents into small chunks. Ideally, each heading would include only a few paragraphs.

  1. Select the heading text.
  2. On the Home tab, in the Styles group, select a heading style, for example, Heading 1 or Heading 2.

headings

Headings and styles can be modified by right-clicking on the style and choosing Modify

Use bulleted lists

  1. Position the cursor anywhere in your document.
  2. Select the Home
  3. In the Paragraph group, select the Bullets
  4. Type each bullet item in the bulleted list.

Bulleted Lists

Use ordered lists

  1. Position the cursor anywhere in your document.
  2. Select the Home
  3. In the Paragraph group, select the Numbering
  4. Type the sequential steps.

Use Text Spacing

To increase or decrease white space between sentences or paragraphs, instead of repeatedly entering blank lines use the text spacing capabilities of Word.

  1. Select your text.
  2. Select the Home
  3. In the Paragraph group, in the lower-right corner of the group, select the More
    The Paragraph dialog box opens, showing the Indents and Spacing tab.
  4. Under Spacing, select the spacing options you want.

fUsing Text Spaces

Use a simple table structure, and specify column header information

Screen readers keep track of their location in a table by counting table cells. If a table is nested within another table or if a cell is merged or split, the screen reader loses count and can’t provide helpful information about the table after that point. Blank cells in a table could also mislead someone using a screen reader into thinking that there is nothing more in the table.

Screen readers also use header information to identify rows and columns.

  1. Position the cursor anywhere in a table.
  2. On the Table Tools Design tab, in the Table Style Options group, select the Header Row check box.
  3. Type column headings.
  4. On the Table Tools Layout tab select Repeat Header Rows

Columns in a table


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