Tips for Making Word Documents Accessible
Page1of4 Tips for Making Word Documents Accessible The 1973 Rehabilitation Act requires that all public institutions make all services accessible to those with disabilities. There are many facets to this law and I want to introduce you to the basics. Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act specifically covers Electronic and Information Technology, which includes multimedia, websites, and associated material such as Word documents and PDFs. When making Word Documents, please keep in mind that students may be using text-to-speech software. Crafting smooth document navigation can easily become a part of your document creation process and here are some quick how-to’s: 1. Use the Styles group, located on your home ribbon. Think of it as a table of contents. It gives structure to the document and it is easily navigated by the user. They can jump to a particular section instead of reading from the beginning each time the document is opened. See Figure 1. Figure1 Thinking ahead: When creating documents that you may ultimately convert to Pdf skip to Heading 1 style to name your document. When documents are converted to Pdf the Title style is no longer compatible for most text-to-speech software. (To change your heading’s styles, just right click and modify to match your document.) Here is a helpful Microsoft Office video: https://support.office.com/enUS/Article/Create-accessible-Word-documents-4fbb34d6-264f-4315-98d1e431019e6137 2. Limit blank line spaces (pressing the enter button or space bar more than once in order to align text). With certain software, these spaces between paragraphs are read as “blank.” Instead, utilize the paragraph spacing option on your home ribbon to add space before or after your paragraphs. See Figure 2. Page2of4 Figure2 3. Choose Verdana as your font. It better distinguishes between letters, such as the capital “I” and lowercase “l.” Other easy to read fonts include Trebuchet MS and Tahoma. 4. Use images with a purpose. All images need to be accompanied by alternate text in order to describe the image. Add Alternate Text to Images: 1. Right click on image and select “Format Picture” from the drop down list. 2. Choose the “Layouts and Properties” icon. 3. Select “Alt Text” and define the image by using the Description box. Screen readers do not read the Title section. 4. If your image is merely decorative, in the description section (number 3 above) just add a space and that will tell the text-to-speech software to skip the image all together. Identifying Links: 5. Right click on link and select “Edit hyperlink.” 6. Click on the button titled “Screentip” and a dialogue box will open so you can specify where the link will take the user. See Figure 3. Page3of4 Figure3 5. Always use pagination. Put page numbers in the top left section of the header and use the format, “Page X of Y”. That way the reader can quickly navigate between pages. See Figure 4. Figure4 Page4of4 If you do not want page numbers to appear in the top left section of the header, just make the text white to blend in with the document background. 6. To check your document’s accessibility simply go to your File tab, choose “Check for Issues,” and select “Check for Accessibility.” See Figure 5. Figure5 It will populate an error report to the right of your document. From there you can better tackle accessibility. Our Web Development Team has additional accessibility information on their website http://www.cccc.edu/accessibility/ .