Accessibility starts from the moment you begin creating your content. We find that Microsoft (MS) Word is used often to create handouts, memos, workbooks and other documents. For these documents the goal is often to distribute an Accessible PDF to your end-users. An Accessible PDF is the most user-friendly and widely used document format.
Microsoft Word Tools for Increasing AccessibilityMicrosoft Word provides several tools and features that can be used to enhance the accessibility of your documents. These include:
- Utilizing the Styles Feature for Headings: This feature allows you to categorize your content logically and effectively, making it easier for screen reader users to navigate.
- Implementing List-Making Features for Bullets and Numbering: A structured layout helps users follow your points sequentially and understand the hierarchy of information.
- Creating Visual Spacing with Paragraph Settings: Adequate spacing enhances readability and reduces visual clutter.
- Being Intentional with Image Choice and Placement: Opt for clear and meaningful images and place them strategically within the document.
- Inserting Alternative Text for Images: Alt text is essential for visually impaired users as it provides a verbal description of the images used in your documents.
- Avoiding Smart Art and Text Boxes: These elements can pose difficulties for screen readers.
- Using Simple Tables with Appropriate Settings: This helps to maintain a clear structure and improves navigation.
Note: Document intentionally not fully accessible for training purposes.
Color Contrast for Accessibility
Another critical aspect of creating accessible documents is choosing colors with high contrast. This principle applies to both the text used in your document and the colors used in icons or images. High-contrast color schemes enhance readability, especially for individuals with visual impairments.
Converting MS Word Document to an Accessible PDF
The final step in creating your accessible document in MS Word is converting it to PDF. MS Word has settings that allow you to export to a PDF with “Tags”. These tags are instrumental in crafting a PDF that is close to meeting accessibility standards. If you structure your MS Word document optimally, there will be only a few additional steps needed in Acrobat Pro to create a fully accessible end product.