Creating an Accessible Word Doc for Windows

For Microsoft Office 2013

Using the Accessibility Checker

In Word 2013 for PC, there is a feature called the Accessibility Checker. The Accessibility Checker essentially reviews your document, highlights any part of the document that might be problematic for someone with disabilities, and explains why this section of material is problematic. The Accessibility Checker allows a user to review the document and make any changes before finalizing the document.

How to Use the Accessibility Checker

  1. At the top left-hand corner, click on File.
  2. On the following screen, select Info.
  3. Towards the right of the menu, select Check for Issues.
  4. In the drop-down menu, select Check Accessibility.
  5. On the right side of the document, an Accessibility Checker pane will appear. Under Inspection results, you will see parts of your document that may not be accessible. If the document is accessible, no issues will be found.

Using Styles in Long Headings

Most times, the Styles feature in Microsoft Word gets overlooked. However, this feature helps users navigate through a long document more efficiently. In addition to adding structure to the document, they add visual cues to help users determine what sections of the document they would like to read.

Example:

How to Add Styles to Long Headings

  1. Highlight the word(s) or heading to which you would like to add a style.
  2. In the Home tab, look in the Styles section. Here, you can select the style you would like to apply to the highlighted text.
  3. When you choose a style, the highlighted text will appear to your left in a Navigation pane.

Using Short Titles in Documents

Another method to creating an accessible document is using short titles. It is recommended that you keep a title below 20 words and on no more than one line. Incorporating short titles in your document allows the user to navigate through the document easily and efficiently. Below is an example of what a short title should look like versus what it should not look like.

Figure 1. Correct

Vs.

Figure 2. Incorrect

The difference in the two headings are not just the fonts, but the way they were created. In the first example, the headings were formatted through the Styles feature in Word. Through this formatted structure, a screenreader will be able to recognize it and users can navigate through the document easily. The second example appears to have a structure through fonts, sizing, and bolding, but this manually created structure is not one a screenreader will recognize.


Avoid Using Floating Objects

Floating objects are any picture, illustration, and table within the document not in line with the text. Because these objects are not in line with the text, the screenreader cannot determine that they are part of the content. Thus, the user will either miss it or will be unable to determine how this object fits into the content of the page. To avoid this, you can use the Text-Wrapping feature to make sure the object is in line with text.

How to Set Up Text Wrapping for an Object

  1. Right click on the object.
  2. Select Wrap Text.
  3. You can either choose In line with text or Top and Bottom.

Adding Alt Text to Images & Objects

What is Alt Text?

Alternative text (Alt Text) is text that you can add to describe images to be read by a screenreader. You can add Alt Text to charts, pictures, shapes, and tables.

How to Add Alternative Text to an Image

  1. Right click on the image or object to which you would like to add Alt text.
  2. Select Format Picture. A Format Picture window should appear on the right side of your word document.
  3. Select the Layout and Properties icon.
  4. Select Alt Text. Under Alt Text enter an explanation of the picture or object in the Description box.
  5. Optional. You may enter a title for the image if you are providing the user with a long explanation. By providing a title, a user can determine whether they would like to read the explanation.

Adding Captions to Images & Objects

Adding captions can be another helpful way to describe pictures for those who do not use a screenreader. For someone with a hearing disability, captions allow them to understand what the illustration is about without sound. Here are instructions on how to add a caption to a figure.

How to Add Captions to Illustrations or Other Objects

  1. Right click on the image or object to which you would like to add a caption.
  2. Select Insert Caption. A Caption box will appear.
  3. Under Options, there will choices provided to help name your image.
    1. In the Label list, select the label that best describes your image or object (ie, Figure, Equation, Table). If the list does not provide the correct label, please select New Label. Type in the new label name and then select OK.
    2. Next to Position, please select whether you would like to have the caption appear above or below the image.
    3. By clicking on Numbering, you can choose the format of the numbering of your caption. For example, Instead of having a 1, 2, 3 Format, you can choose an A, B, C Format. By selecting Format, your image will say Figure A instead of Figure 1. Then select OK.
  4. In the Caption text box, enter any text with punctuation that you would like to appear in the caption after the label.

Adding Captions to Audio

How to Add Captions to Audio

  1. Right click on the audio to which you would like to add a caption.
  2. Select Insert Caption. A Caption box will appear.
  3. Under Options, there will be choices provided to help name your audio.
    1. In the Label list, select the label that best describes your image or object (ie. Figure, Equation, Table). If the list does not provide the correct label, please select New Label. It may be helpful to only have the title of the audio. Type in the new label name and then select OK.
    2. Next to Position, please select whether you would like to have the caption appear above or below the image.
    3. By clicking on Numbering, you can choose the format of the numbering of your caption. For example, instead of having a 1, 2, 3 Format, you can choose an A, B, C Format. By selecting Format, your image will say Figure A instead of Figure 1. Then select OK.
  4. In the Caption text box, please enter any text (with punctuation) that you would like to appear in the caption after the label. Then select OK.

Using Meaningful Hyperlinks

Instead of creating new documents about a topic, you may find appropriate pre-existing diagrams or web pages that explain the topic in a concise and clear way. You can add these by inserting hyperlinks instead of copying and pasting the direct URL. By creating a hyperlink, users can determine the subject of the content they are about to access.

Example:

By the end of the first trimester, a baby can open and close their fists.

When you click on the ‘first trimester’ hyperlink, you will be taken to a webpage that describes the development of a baby during the first trimester.

How to Create a Hyperlink

  1. Highlight the word to which you would like to add a hyperlink.
  2. Towards the top of the screen select the Insert tab.
  3. In the Insert tab, select Links.
  4. In the drop-down, menu, select Hyperlink.
  5. An Insert Hyperlink box will appear.
  6. In the Address field, paste the link.
  7. In the Text to display field, enter the title, name, or phrase that will describe your link.
  8. Select OK.

Avoid Using Repeated Blank Characters

Most users are accustomed to indenting at the beginning of a paragraph using the ‘tab’ key, while others create this indentation by pressing the spacebar repeatedly until they are satisfied with the look of the indentation. It is important to keep in mind that repeated spaces, tabs, and empty paragraphs are recognized as blanks by the screen reader. When a screenreader identifies constant blanks, the user may not think there is any further content in the document. To avoid this problem, you can set a formatted indentation and create formatted white space around a paragraph.

How to Set Up a Formatted Indentation

  1. In the document, highlight the paragraph to which you would like to add an indentation.
  2. Right click on the highlighted material.
  3. In the drop-down menu, select Paragraph. A Paragraph window will appear.
  4. Under Indentation, select First line under the Special field.
  5. Under the By field, select the spacing for indentation.
  6. Then select OK.

How to Create White Space Around a Paragraph

  1. Highlight the paragraph around which you want to create space.
  2. Right click on the highlighted paragraph.
  3. In the drop-down menu, select Paragraph. A Paragraph window will appear.
  4. Under Indentation, type in values in the Left and Right fields to create space around the left and right sides of the paragraph.
  5. Under Spacing, type in values in the Before and After fields to create white space above and beneath the paragraph.
  6. Then select OK.

Using Simple Table Structure

Tables are used for organizing material, lists of data, and ideas in a collection or rows and columns. When creating an accessible table, there are important tips to keep in mind.

Quick Tip How It Helps
No nesting tables (tables within a table), merged, or split cells. User and screen reader can easily navigate through table and determine data.
Use appropriate headings when labeling. User can identify how information pertains to title. Making titles and headings bold can also help the user determine the topics and sort the information table is presenting.
Avoid using blank cells for formatting. Blank cells may indicate to user and screen reader that there is no further content. To avoid this problem, delete blank cells.