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Creating Accessible Documents


This page includes:

Following accessibility best practices from the start when creating documents will save you time and create a better document for your reader in the long run.

 


Using Microsoft Word

Steps for making Word documents accessible:

Step 1: Organize Your Documents

Ensure content is well-organized for the reader and falls under nested sections.

Step 2: Draft a Word Document Following Accessibility Best Practices

Accessibility Best Practices checklist:

  • Headings reflect document hierarchy.
  • Built-in lists (bullets or numbers)  are used to order items.
  • Graphics and photos have alt-text and descriptions.
  • Links have descriptive text.
  • Email addresses are written out.
  • Color contrast is used.
  • Tables are used correctly.
  • Standard fonts are used.

Microsoft offers several helpful video tutorials on:

Creating accessible documents - Provides an overview that includes alt text, heading and paragraph styles, and the Accessibility Checker. (4:29)

Alt Text - Shows how to add alt text to objects, such as pictures, clip art, charts and tables. (2:07)

Headings - Shows how to use styles for headings to make your documents easier to navigate. (1:25)

Links -  Shows how to create hyperlinks that use natural language so they're easy to understand. (2:09)

File names - Shows how to give each document a descriptive title in all Microsoft Office applications that succinctly describes the purpose of the document. (1:57)

Tables - Shows how to set up tables so they can be read out loud to people who use a screen reader. (2:18)

Step 3: Check Accessibility

Use the Accessibility Checker in Word to check the accessibility of the Word document and resolve all issues. Word will use that information to create accessibility tags in the PDF. 

Helpful Videos: Microsoft provides both written and video (1:10) tutorials on how to check accessibility.

Step 4: Save Word Document as a PDF

Word for Windows

  • Click File > Save As and choose where you want the file to be saved.
  • In the Save As dialog box, choose PDF in the Save as type list.
  • Click Options, make sure the Document structure tags for accessibility check box is selected, and then click OK.

Word for Mac

  • Select File > Save As (or press Command+Shift+S), type the file name in the Save As text box, and then choose where you want the file to be saved.
  • In the Save As dialog, go to the File Format drop down box. Use the Down Arrow to browse through file types, and select PDF.
  • Select the radio button "Best for electronic distribution and accessibility (uses Microsoft online service)." This ensures the PDF is tagged.
  • Select Save.

See save an accessible PDF file in Office for older versions of Microsoft Word.

Step 5: Confirm Accessibility

Check accessibility of PDF to confirm accessibility or resolve any issues.

 


Using PowerPoint

Steps for making PowerPoint (PPT) documents accessible.

Step 1: Choose a Slide Theme or Template

Be sure to choose a theme with good contrast and with simple backgrounds.

Step 2: Create a PowerPoint Document Following Accessibility Best Practices

Accessibility checklist:

  • Each slide has a unique title.
  • Built-in slide design is used to ensure the reading order.
  • Larger font size (18pt or larger), sans serif fonts and sufficient white space are used.
  • Built-in lists (bullets or numbers) are used to order items.
  • PowerPoint's built-in Table Tools are used to build tables.
  • Color contrast is used for text and background colors.
  • Color contrast is used (but not as the only means of conveying information).
  • Hyperlinks and ScreenTips have descriptive text.
  • Graphics and photos have alt-text and descriptive titles.
  • Email addresses are written out.
  • Embedded video is captioned.
  • Embedded audio includes a transcript.

For more information see Accessibility Best Practices.

Step 3: Check Accessibility

How to Run the Accessibility Checker in PowerPoint 

Run the Accessibility Checker in Windows or Mac.

  • Windows - Select File > Info. Select the Check for Issues button and choose Check Accessibility.
  • Mac - Select the Review tab, then choose Check Accessibility.

The Accessibility Checker sidebar will appear to the right.

  • The checker is a helpful tool that presents accessibility errors, warnings and tips for accessibility.
  • Selecting an item in the report will highlight the issue within the slide.
  • Information about the issue, and instructions on how to repair it, will appear at the bottom of the sidebar.

Fix all errors before converting to PDF.

Step 4: Save PowerPoint Document as a PDF

PowerPoint for Windows

  • Click File > Save As and choose where you want the file to be saved.
  • In the Save As dialog box, choose PDF in the Save as type list.
  • Click OK.

PowerPoint for Mac

  • Select File > Save As (or press Command+Shift+S), type the file name in the Save As text box, and then choose where you want the file to be saved.
  • In the Save As dialog, go to the File Format drop down box. Use the Down Arrow to browse through file types, and select PDF.
  • Click Export.

Step 5: Confirm Accessibility

Check accessibility of PDF to confirm accessibility or resolve any issues.