Check the following elements and ensure they are accessible
For each item that you have in your document, click on the accessibility guideline(s) that corresponds to it in order to learn how to make the element accessible. You may also want to set up your default Word document style to be accessible.

Here is additional information on Microsoft Office Accessibility Support for Microsoft Word.

Accessibility Checker

It is important to always run an Accessibility checker. When creating documents it is easy to forget small details that can make a document inaccessible

There are three levels of an issue. An error, warning or tip.

Error- Content that makes the document difficult or impossible to read and understand for people with disabilities.

Warning- Content that in most (But not all) cases makes the document difficult to understand for people with disabilities.

  1. Select the Review Tab
  2. Select the Check Accessibility option.
  3. The Accessibility Checker pane will show the inspection results.
  4. Choose an issue to see why you should fix the issue and steps to change the content.

The blue box will show additional information from Microsoft on why, how and other tips to make your materials accessible.


  • Ensure your text is readable by using at least 10px san serif fonts, such as Arial, Helvetica or Verdana. These font types will magnify well for those who have low vision.
  • If there is an image with text in it, make sure to put the text in the alternative text so it will be accessible to blind students.
  • Refrain from using floating text boxes, track changes or commenting which are not accessible.


etting heading styles allows screen readers to navigate through a document and makes it easier to read for everyone.

  1. Select the text that you want to make into a heading.
  2. Go to the Home
  3. In the Stylesgroup, choose the appropriate heading level (see the next section on how to Use Headings in the Proper Order) from the Styles

Heading Order

  1. Heading 1 is like the title of a book and there is just one Heading 1 per page. Heading 2s are like chapter titles. Heading 3s are sub-sections of those chapters, and so on.
  2. Heading order is also similar to an outline. It can be helpful to view the Navigation Pane while applying structure to a word document, so you can see the headings in an outline style format to make sure you haven’t skipped a heading level.
  3. Don’t skip heading levels. Potential penalty for this transgression is beheading.
  4. See below for a visual display of a possible heading order:

Modify Headings

  1. Create your document.
  2. Apply Heading Styles to the headings in your document.
  3. Adjust the color, font and size to your taste. (Arial, Helvetica, Times New Roman, Verdana, 12 pt or larger are recommended for accessibility)
  4. If you want to maintain a style throughout the document, right click on the style in the style ribbon and choose “Update Heading 1 (or whatever style it is you are changing) to Match Selection”
  5. If you want to make this your default style for future documents, right click on the style in the style ribbon that you want to change, and choose “Modify…”
  6. Then in the Modify Style window, choose “New documents based on this template”
  7. Click OK


Page formatting (lists, headings and links), is read aloud to screen reader users, so the content is understood in context. It’s important then to properly format lists.

  1. Select the text that you want to make into a list.
  2. On the Home tab, in the Paragraph group, select the Number or Bullets list icon.

Images & Graphics (Alt Text)

Alternative text descriptions of images (ALT text) allows screen reader users to benefit from the information being conveyed by an image

  1. Go to the image and right click, then select Format Picture….
  2. Click over to the Layout & Properties tab.
  3. Type a detailed explanation of the picture in the Description box – Not the Title box.
    1. Keep this description to one or two sentences.
  4. Click the Close button when done.

Objects Not Inline

When an image or object is not in line with the text it makes it difficult for screen readers to navigate. This can make the document inaccessible to anyone using screen readers.

To fix an object no inline you need to remove text wrapping.

  1. Select the object and right click
  2. Point to the Wrap Text and choose In Line with Text option


Links are a major method of navigating for everyone, but especially screen reader users. If the links are embedded into meaningful text, they are much more useful.

  1. Type out text that describes the destination of the link.
  2. Example: Delta College
  3. Select the text, right click and choose hyperlink.
  4. The Insert Hyperlink window will open. Type the URL of the webpage in the Address field. For example, we would type out, “”
  5. Then click the OKbutton to save the link.

NEED A NEW IMAGE with Delta example- Delta College-!!!

Hyperlink Tips:

  • If you think students will be printing the document and you want them to have the URL, put it in parentheses after the link, but don’t hyperlink it.
  • Screen reading software can pull up all of the links in a page to aid the user in navigating the page more quickly. If a link pulled up by the screen reader is some indecipherable URL or ambiguous phrase like, “click here” the screen reader user will not know where that link goes.


Adding ALT Text to a Table

  1. Right click on the table
  2. Select Table Properties
  3. Click on the ALT Text tab and add a description of the table
  4. Click Ok

Reading Order in Table

Screen readers read tables from left to right, top to bottom, one cell at a time (no repeats). If cells are split or merged, the reading order can be thrown off. To test the reading order of your table in Word, place your cursor in the first cell of the table. Now press the Tab key repeatedly to navigate through the table. This will be the reading order that assistive technologies will use.

Merged, nested, and split cells change the reading order of tables. Make sure you construct your table in a way that accommodates good reading order.

*Once you check the reading order, the warning will still appear in the Accessibility Checker Inspection Results box. As long as the other errors and warnings are taken care of the PowerPoint will still be accessible.

Column Headers

Designating column headers in a table is essential to screen reader users understanding how the information is laid out. Please note that Microsoft Word only allows the top row of a table to be designated as a header row. You cannot designate the first column as a header.

  1. Put your cursor in the top row of your data table.
  2. The Table Design tabs will display.
  3. Select the Design tab.
  4. Select the Header Row check box.
  5. Select the Layout tab located to the right of the Design tab.
  6. Click on “Repeat Header Row“.
    1. (I know this isn’t intuitive, but it’s very important to designating that top row as the table headers.)

Color and Size

Don’t use color alone to make a distinction, a comparison or to set something off or apart from the rest of the document. If you categorize something by color alone, those who are color blind or blind will not be able to benefit from the information. Make sure there is enough color contrast between foreground (font) color and background color.


Proper spacing is not recommended by hitting Enter, Tab or space bar multiple times; instead the spacing feature in the Paragraph formatting menu is used to create blank spaces.