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How to ensure you have accessibility within your Microsoft documents:

What to fix

How to find it

Why fix it

Include alternative text with all visuals.

Visual content includes pictures, SmartArt graphics, shapes, groups, charts, embedded objects, ink, and videos.

To find missing alternative text, use the Accessibility Checker.

Alt text helps people who can’t see the screen to understand what’s important in images and other visuals.

Avoid using text in images as the sole method of conveying important information. If you must use an image with text in it, repeat that text in the document. In alt text, briefly describe the image and mention the existence of the text and its intent.

Add meaningful hyperlink text and ScreenTips.

To determine whether hyperlink text makes sense as standalone information and whether it gives readers accurate information about the destination target, visually scan your document.

People who use screen readers sometimes scan a list of links. Links should convey clear and accurate information about the destination. For example, instead of linking to the text Click here, include the full title of the destination page.

Tip: You can also add ScreenTips that appear when your cursor hovers over text or images that include a hyperlink.

Ensure that color is not the only means of conveying information.

To find instances of color-coding, visually scan your document.

People who are blind, have low vision, or are colorblind might miss out on the meaning conveyed by particular colors.

Use sufficient contrast for text and background colors.

To find insufficient color contrast, use the Accessibility Checker.

You can also look for text in your document that’s hard to read or to distinguish from the background.

If your document has a high level of contrast between text and background, more people can see and use the content.

Use built-in headings and styles.

To check that the order of headings is logical, visually scan your document's table of contents.

You can also click on each heading and apply a built-in heading style to it.

To preserve tab order and to make it easier for screen readers to read your documents, use a logical heading order and the built-in formatting tools in Word.

For example, organize headings in the prescribed logical order. Use Heading 1, Heading 2, and then Heading 3, rather than Heading 3, Heading 1, and then Heading 2. And organize the information in your documents into small chunks. Ideally, each heading is followed by only a few paragraphs.

Use a simple table structure, and specify column header information.

To ensure that tables don’t contain split cells, merged cells, or nested tables.

You can also visually scan your tables to check that they don't have any completely blank rows or columns.

Screen readers keep track of their location in a table by counting table cells. If a table is nested within another table or if a cell is merged or split, the screen reader loses count and can’t provide helpful information about the table after that point. Blank cells in a table could also mislead someone using a screen reader into thinking that there is nothing more in the table.

Screen readers also use header information to identify rows and columns.

What to fix

How to find it

Why fix it

Include alternative text with all visuals.

Visual content includes pictures, SmartArt graphics, shapes, groups, charts, embedded objects, ink, and videos.

To find missing alternative text, use the Accessibility Checker.

Alternative text helps people who can’t see the screen to understand what’s important in images and other visuals.

Avoid using text in images as the sole method of conveying important information. If you must use an image with text in it, repeat that text in the presentation. In the alternative text, briefly describe the image and mention the existence of the text and its intent.

Make sure slide contents can be read in the order that you intend.

Use the Accessibility Checker to find slides that have possible problems with reading order.

When someone who can see reads a slide, they usually read things, such as text or a picture, in the order the elements appear on the slide. In contrast, a screen reader reads the elements of a slide in the order they were added to the slide, which might be very different from the order in which things appear.

To make sure everyone reads the contents in the order you intend, it's important to check the reading order.

When creating a new slide, use the built-in slide designs.

PowerPoint contains built-in slide layouts that you can apply to any slide. When you use them with a new slide, these layouts automatically make sure that the reading order works for everyone.

Add meaningful hyperlink text and ScreenTips.

To determine whether hyperlink text makes sense as standalone information and whether it gives readers accurate information about the destination target, visually scan the slides in your presentation.

People who use screen readers sometimes scan a list of links. Links should convey clear and accurate information about the destination. For example, instead of linking to the text Click here, include the full title of the destination page. You can even use the URL of the page if it's short and descriptive, for example, www.microsoft.com.

Tip: You can also add ScreenTips that appear when your cursor hovers over text or images that include a hyperlink.

Ensure that color is not the only means of conveying information.

Switch to the View tab and select Grayscale. Visually scan each slide in your presentation for instances of color-coding.

People who are blind, have low vision, or are colorblind might miss out on the meaning conveyed by particular colors.

For example, add an underline to color-coded hyperlink text so that people who are colorblind know that the text is linked even if they can’t see the color. For headings, consider adding bold or using a larger font.

Use sufficient contrast for text and background colors.

To find insufficient color contrast, use the Accessibility Checker.

You can also look for text in your spreadsheet that’s hard to read or to distinguish from the background.

Use strong contrast between text and background, so people with low vision can see and use the content. Use dark text on a white or off-white background, or reverse it and use white text on a dark background.

White and black schemes also make it easier for people who are colorblind to distinguish text and shapes.

Give every slide a unique title

To find slides that do not have titles, use the Accessibility Checker.

People who are blind, have low vision, or a reading disability rely on slide titles to navigate. For example, by skimming or using a screen reader, they can quickly scan through a list of slide titles and go right to the slide they want.

Use a simple table structure, and specify column header information.

To ensure that tables don't contain split cells, merged cells, or nested tables, use the Accessibility Checker.

Screen readers keep track of their location in a table by counting table cells. If a table is nested within another table or if a cell is merged or split, the screen reader loses count and can’t provide helpful information about the table after that point.

Screen readers also use header information to identify rows and columns.

Use a larger font size (18pt or larger), sans serif fonts, and sufficient white space.

To find potential issues related to fonts or white space, review your slides for areas that look crowded or illegible.

People who have dyslexia describe seeing text “swim together” on a page (the compressing of one line of text into the line below). They often see text merge or distort.

For people who have dyslexia or have low vision, reduce the reading load. For example, they may benefit from familiar sans serif fonts, such as Arial or Calibri. Avoid using all capital letters and excessive italics or underlines. Include ample white space between sentences and paragraphs.

Make videos accessible to visually impaired and hearing-impaired users.

Subtitles typically contain a transcription (or translation) of the dialogue.

Closed captions typically also describe audio cues such as music or sound effects that occur off-screen.

Video description means audio-narrated descriptions of a video's key visual elements. These descriptions are inserted into natural pauses in the program's dialogue. Video description makes video more accessible to individuals who are blind or visually impaired.

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