Many educators use one or more programs contained in Microsoft® Office when creating course content or other instructional materials for online courses. In this post we’ll focus on a few tips and techniques for making accessible content using Microsoft® Word, although similar concepts apply to other word processing programs.
Using Word Documents in Online Courses
From an accessibility perspective, the same content provided in an HTML page is usually more accessible than a word processing document. If at all possible, provide online course content as a web page. If that is not possible, then providing a Word document that is created in an accessible manner is one alternative to consider.
Categories of items found by Accessibility Checker
Errors: Content that makes the document impossible or very difficult to read and understand for people using assistive technology. Common errors in Word documents include:
- No headings applied and no Table of Contents used
- Missing Alt Text for non-text objects
- Proper table header formatting
Warnings: Content that will likely (but not always) make the document difficult to understand for people using assistive technology. Common warnings include:
- Table structure (split or merged cells, nested tables, or completely blank rows or columns)
- Hyperlink text that is not meaningful or descriptive
- Repeated blank characters
Tips: Content that should be understood with assistive technology, but could be better organized to improve the experience. Common tips include:
- If there is a video, it will alert you to check for closed captions
- If an image has a watermark, it might be misunderstood
- Headings follow in a logical order, no levels are skipped
For more information, refer to the Microsoft support topic Make your Word documents accessible to people with disabilities.