About a quarter of U.S. adults have some sort of disability and, while not all of them impact how an individual interacts with digital documents, designing content to meet those needs can be beneficial to all users. A common example that illustrates this point is the curb-cut effect. Originally implemented for people in wheelchairs, curb-cuts (the dip at the edge of a sidewalk) also benefit people pushing strollers, skateboarders, people wheeling bags, and many others. The same principle applies to creating documents! Whether creating or editing documents using Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, Adobe, or other tools, the following general guidelines can help you ensure they are accessible to all users, including those with various disabilities.
Documents should have headings that provide structure and help screen reader users navigate the document.
Any content in list form should be structured using the list controls, such as a bulleted or numbered list.
Meaningful Link Text:
The text of a link should make sense out of context and clearly convey information about the link destination.
Alt Text on Images:
For users who cannot see the images, adding alternative text (alt text) to an image communicates what the image is. Alt text should be a brief description of the content of the
If including tables, identify column and row headers. This helps screen readers convey information in the correct order.
Most tools have a built-in accessibility checker that can alert you to any issues or necessary changes. You can also go through the document yourself using a screen reader like JAWS to evaluate accessibility.
Document Specific Accessibility Tools
Check out these specific instructions for some of the most common tools: