University of Utah

How do I improve the accessibility of a Word document?

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1. Open a Word document

2. Select the Review tab and click the Check Accessibility button

3. View Accessibility Inspection Results

A new Accessibility pane will open to the right of the document viewer. You will be able to see any accessibility issues under the Warnings or Errors section. Some issues can be automatically fixed by selecting the drop-down arrow button to the right of the issue and applying one of the recommended actions. Continue through this process and resolve each issue. If the issue cannot be fixed automatically, Word will provide assistance at the bottom of the Accessibility pane.

4. Stylize Text

After resolving all issues detected by Microsoft Word, you’ll need to correctly stylize text for screen reading. Since just making text larger or bold doesn’t alter how that text is conveyed to non-sighted users through a screen reader, you must change the style of text so a screen reader can differentiate between text in the document. To change the style of pre-existing text, click the Home tab in the top Word ribbon and click the Styles Pane. Select the text you would like to update in the document viewer, click on the drop-down arrow of the corresponding style in the right-hand Styles pane, and select Update to Match Selection. Continue this process for all text in the document.

5. Alternative Text for Images

After correctly stylizing all text in your Word document, you’ll need to add alternative text to the images in your document. To do so, simply right-click on each image and click Edit Alt Text. A new accessibility pane will open to the right of the document viewer. Click through each image and write a description that accurately reflects what a sighted user would see. You should write this in the context of the instruction or lesson being given.

6. Save Accessible Document

Save the document in the appropriate format. For the best accessibility, save the document in PDF format. To do so, select the File tab and click on the Save As link. Under File Format, select PDF and select the Best for electronic distribution and accessibility option. Click the Export button.


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