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Creating Accessible Documents in Microsoft Word, Part 2

The following information is from the University of Montana Accessibility Home Page. This is a fantastic resource with a lot of information about creating a more accessible university for everyone. I encourage everyone to spend a little while exploring it!

Overview of Some More Aspects of an Accessible Document

The following are a few more few basic steps to ensure that your document is readable to people who use screen readers or text to speech programs.


Self-describing links

When creating a hyperlink in your document, use text that describes what users will see when they click on it. Never use "Click Here," or long URLs.

Examples of good link text:

·         IT Accessibility Shortcourses

·         W3C tips for link text

·         UM Accessibility homepage

Screen reader users can pull up a list of links on a page and navigate through that list. The link text should be able to stand alone independently of its context. Links like "click here" and "more" are meaningless out of context.

Here are the steps to change the title of a hyperlink:

1.     Right click on the hyperlink and choose ‘edit hyperlink’

2.     At the top is a box that says ‘text to display’, click in this box and change the wording to a descriptive title (‘click here’ is a bad choice as it is meaningless out of context)

3.     Check that the URL is correct in the bottom ‘address’ box

4.     Select ‘ok’ to save your work



Tables in documents are useful for communicating relationships between data, especially where those relationship are best expressed in a matrix of rows and columns. Tables should not be used to control layout. Authoring tools have other means of doing this, including organizing content into columns.

If your data is best presented in a table, try to keep the table simple. If the table is complex, consider whether you could divide it into multiple smaller tables with a heading above each.

A key to making data tables accessible to screen reader users is to clearly identify column and row headers. Also, if there are nested columns or rows with multiple headers for each cell, screen readers need to be explicitly informed as to which headers relate to which cells.



If a viewer is color-blind, has low vision or other print disabilities, color may not be perceived.

To be accessible:

·         Color should not be the only indicator that something is important or requires action

·         Color should provide sufficient contrast

·         Color indicators should be used along with

o    text that is appropriately placed and structured

o    patterns or other visual indicators that don't obstruct the text

o    varying shapes