Creating accessible materials

Content creation guidelines

For accessibility, it's important to make information available both visually and auditorily.

Unless you are producing something with narration, making something available auditorily means creating materials that can be consumed using a screen reader such as JAWS.

General principles

  • When you create a graphic, use alt text to describe the image. Some graphics may also require a caption.
  • Set up materials so screen reader users can orient themselves:
    • Use the accessibility checkers in Microsoft products.
    • Use built-in headings (screen readers can read built-in headings, allowing the user to skim the material and more quickly find the needed information).
    • Use descriptive text for hyperlinks (as screen readers can read all the links in a page, descriptive text for hyperlinks allows the user to quickly navigate to what they are looking for).
    • Use simple table structure (see Microsoft materials below for guidance).
    • If your final product will be a PDF, make sure the source document is accessible (see the Accessible PDFs section for more details).

Microsoft resources on accessibility





Text boxes and Smart Art

  • Do not use text boxes in Microsoft Word or Excel. Screen readers will not read the text. A border is good alternative. (Note that text boxes in Microsoft PowerPoint do not have this problem). 
  • Microsoft Smart Art consists of text boxes. Treat any Word or Excel Smart Art like a graphic.
  • Note that any PDFs created from Word or Excel documents would inherit this issue. 

Accessible PDFs

Accessible graphics with text

Color vision deficiency is a common condition. If you create a graphic with text, make sure the color contrast between the text color and background color is readable for people who fall on this spectrum.

More resources