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Guidelines: Accessible
 Distance Education

Guidelines: Accessible Word Documents

Categories: MUST Should May

The "Must Items" are critical to basic access for people with disabilities.

  1. Properly format all text used as section headings. Utilize styles in Word such as "Heading 1", "Heading 2", etc. This allows screen readers to create an outline of the document. Using bold text to indicate headings is not sufficient to create an accessible document.

  2. Provide a text equivalent for all images. This can be done through providing text captions for images or by using the "Format Object" or "Format Picture" dialog boxes in Word.

  3. For data tables, identify row and column headers. Make sure all column and row headers are clearly identifiable. Make headers bold or in a larger font. This helps viewers to distinguish headers from the actual information in the table.

  4. Ensure that hyperlinked text makes sense out of content. Hyperlinked phrases such as "click here" can be confusing for people who use screen readers. Make each hyperlink descriptive of the content to which it links.

  5. Ensure that documents that use color are understandable for people who cannot perceive color. Color and highlighting can be used for markup, but should not be the only way to provide information.

  6. If color is used, use a high contrast between background colors and text colors. Students with low vision may not be able to read text that does not have a high degree of contrast between text and background. Use light text on dark backgrounds and dark text on light backgrounds

  7. Avoid the use of flashing images in Word documents. Flashing images may cause seizures for students with photosensitive epilepsy, and may be distracting for students with learning disabilities./p>

  8. Use the clearest and simplest language appropriate for a document's content.If text appears in the Word file, make sure it is in the most concise and simplest language possible. This point helps those with cognitive disabilities, those that are of younger age, and those that do not have the primary language of the document as their first language.

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