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.
- 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.
- Starting with an accessible source document makes creating an accessible PDF simpler.
- If you have Adobe Standard or Pro (not Adobe Reader), WebAIM recommends using that rather than doing the conversion in a Microsoft Office application. See WebAIM's PDF accessibility page for instructions.
- If you don't have Adobe Standard or Pro, carefully follow Microsoft's directions to create accessible PDFs using Word, PowerPoint, or Excel.
- Note that table headers will not be properly tagged in the conversion process (The document will be readable with a screen reader but not as easy to navigate).
- If you have Adobe Acrobat Pro DC, you can fix that (see WebAIM's page on converting documents to PDFs).
- If you have Adobe Acrobat Pro DC, you can use it to check and repair accessibility. You can also use it to convert scanned documents into accessible PDFs. LinkedInLearning, Adobe, and the GSA have resources on this.
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.
- WebAIM color contrast checker is one tool you can use to test color contrast.
- You may need to use a color format converter to use the WebAIM tool.