Digital documents have accessibility features to support the needs of all users under the accessibility regulations. The following guidance can help you create content in a more inclusive and accessible way.
The following principles should be followed in all digital formats:
Users with visual impairments may miss out on information or meaning of content that is conveyed by colour. Ensuring that your elements are not using colour as the single means of conveying meaning but employing alternative ways of emphasis will help users distinguish content in their purpose. e.g., highlighting text in yellow as the only way of emphasising text will not come across to a user that is not sighted. Consider making the text bold or using an alternative solution.
Aim to make it easier for users to see your content and separate foreground from background by using colours in your text and other elements that have sufficient contrast.
To check colour contrast is sufficient:
Links will be more useful if they describe the destination in a meaningful way. Screen-reader users can skip from link to link and it is therefore important that the text is also unique. Avoid “Click here” and “Read more” which are confusing out of context and are likely to be used repeatedly. Before linking a full URL, consider whether it is simple or you want users to become familiar with it as screen-readers read it out entirely. WebAim guidance on Link Text and Appearance has more information on the readability and length of links.
Meaningful text for hyperlinks tips:
To insert meaningful hyperlink text:
All non-textual elements, such as images, graphs, etc., must have an alternative text that describes the content or the information it is trying to convey. It is then possible for users to change it into large print, braille, speech, symbols or simpler language.
The image can be marked as decorative if it conveys no necessary information. Complex images, such as a chart, graph or map, may require an additional long description to the alternative text. The W3C guidance on complex images has examples of how to provide long descriptions.
To add Alt-text to an image on Office documents such as Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Outlook:
Example of inputting alt-text:
Alt text: A person pours coffee from a silver espresso pot into a blue and white striped mug.
Image from UnSplash, credit Annie Spratt.
Complex images are a type of visual content that contain considerable amounts of information and details, more than could be conveyed by alt text alone, or just one sentence. These can be:
In cases where complex images are used, you should endeavour to include a longer description of the content alongside the alt text to fully convey the information – this practice will ensure you are meeting WCAG 2.1 success criteria. Some examples of what you can do are:
Complex Images [online], 2021. [online]. Complex Images • Images • WAI Web Accessibility Tutorials. Available from: https://www.w3.org/WAI/tutorials/images/complex/#a-text-link-to-the-long-description-adjacent-to-the-image [Accessed 24 Sep 2021].
Gunderson and Nicholas Hoyt University of Illinois, J., 2021. Long description for complex images [online]. Functional Accessibility Evaluator 2.1. Available from: https://fae.disability.illinois.edu/rulesets/IMAGE_6/ [Accessed 24 Sep 2021].
Provide Long Descriptions for Complex Images [online], 2021. [online]. Deque University. Available from: https://dequeuniversity.com/tips/long-descriptions [Accessed 24 Sep 2021].
Like their use in other Microsoft 365 products, tables can be useful content types, though they can pose some accessibility issues when used in a non-standard or overly complex format.
Accessible tables tips:
Tables should be used to organise data into columns and rows. A Table can be added from the Insert tab by selecting the number of columns and rows.
There are a few extra steps to be considered in making a table accessible to screenreaders:
Do add a Description to the Alt-text tab by right-clicking on your table and selecting Table Properties.
Do include a Header row and First row if appropriate from the Table Design tab (with your table selected), which screen readers can use to identify cells.
Do add a Caption to the table from the References tab, and it will appear in the Table of Contents.
ScreenTips are small containers of descriptive text that appear when you hover your cursor over an element – this can include buttons, commands, images, or hyperlinks. ScreenTips can give additional information about elements, which can help users scan content more easily and quickly.
To add ScreenTips:
The Accessibility Checker is a built-in tool available across the suite of Microsoft Office software. It can run in the background while you work, or you can launch when needed. The checker can detect accessibility errors that your content may have, help you review the issues and recommend how to fix them.
You can access the Accessibility Checker options from the dropdown menu to Check Accessibility, insert Alt Text, open the Reading Order Pane, and open Ease of Access Options.
To use the Accessibility Checker: