Whenever you create a Word document for any purpose (i.e. course content, class assignment, instructions, meeting notes), get in the habit of running it through the Accessibility Checker built right into the tool. Not only should this become a habit, but it is something you can share with your students who submit attached Word documents for class assignments. Remember it is everyone’s responsibility to make our online content accessible for all users. Students who learn these practices can take these skills into their future workplaces to help build a culture where all content is accessible. Common best practices for making Word Docs accessible is well documented by Microsoft’s Office Support. Everything from explaining why, along with the most recent updates is available. This site includes a table of key best practices for creating Word documents that are accessible to people with disabilities.

Make your Word Documents accessible.

Do you prefer to watch video? Microsoft shares four short video clips at this site: Video-Create-accessible-Word-documents explaining how to:

  1. Apply and customize heading styles
  2. Apply and customize paragraph styles
  3. Add alt text to images and tables
  4. Structure your tables for easy navigation

The accessibility checker inspects your document and reports back errors found, warnings and tips. In the screenshots below you can see where to find the accessibility checker. In Office 365, you can find the Check Accessibility button on the Review tab on the Ribbon. Click it to open the Accessibility Checker.

In other versions of Word you may have to go to the Info page and Inspect Document.

After you click the Check Accessibility tab, your document will be reviewed and the results of the inspection listed. In the example document below you can see how the checker reports any issues found. This example shows the common error of missing alt text.

So how do I fix this error? Keep in mind the errors, warnings and tips offer information on how to fix the problem. In addition, just searching for help on any of these issues at Microsoft’s support site will provide both text and video information. (i.e. How to add ALT text to images)

To add alt text to a picture

  1. Right-click on a picture or object and choose Format Picture.
  2. In the Format Picture panel, choose Layout & Properties, and then choose Alt Text.
  3. Fill in both the Title and Description boxes.
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