Make your Word Documents Accessible to People with Disabilities

Creator: Microsoft

Date Updated: March 21, 2022

Microsoft provides guidelines for creating accessible Word documents, including instructions and general best practices. This resource provides support for creating accessible Word documents in Windows, macOS, iOS, Android and the web version of Microsoft Word.

Quick Facts

One of the main guidelines in this document is to use the built-in “Accessibility Checker.” This tool will inform you in a sidebar menu of any inaccessible items in your document, including low colour contrast (for those with low vision), missing alt-text (describing images for users with screen readers), and inaccessible structure in the document.

  • Accessing the “Accessibility Checker.”
    • Under the Review tab > “Accessibility Checker”
  • If you have an older version of Word:
    • File > Info >”Check for Issues” > in the dropdown menu select “Check Accessibility”
  • Other accessibility guidelines include:
    • Use the built-in heading and styles provided by Word. When applying headings, follow the rule of hierarchy. A Heading 2 should always follow a Heading 1, and you should only use a Heading 3 below a Heading 2. Don’t skip around heading levels, For example, use H1 > H2 > H3, not H1 > H3 > H2.
    • Add alt-text images!
    • Ensure that your hyperlinks are clear. The link text should inform users where the link will take them without needing the context of the surrounding text.
    • Don’t use colour only to convey meaning, and when using different colours in your document, ensure that there is high colour contrast.

Visit the Microsoft support resource: Make your Word Documents Accessible to People with Disabilities.

References

Microsoft Support (March 17, 2022). Make your Word Documents Accessible to People with Disabilities. Web page. Accessed March 21, 2022. Retrieved from: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/office/make-your-word-documents-accessible-to-people-with-disabilities-d9bf3683-87ac-47ea-b91a-78dcacb3c66d#PickTab=Web

Microsoft Support (March 18, 2022). Improve accessibility with the Accessibility Checker. Microsoft Support (March 17, 2022). Make your Word Documents Accessible to People with Disabilities. Web page. Accessed March 21, 2022. Retrieved from: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/office/improve-accessibility-with-the-accessibility-checker-a16f6de0-2f39-4a2b-8bd8-5ad801426c7f#PickTab=Online