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Digital Accessibility at Otterbein University

A resource guide on accessibility, making content accessible, and accessibility compliance.

General Considerations for Document Accessbility

General Considerations for Document Accessibility

 Accessible documents and web pages allow people who use a screen reader to maneuver through documents easily:  jump from one section to another easily, search for particular content and go to it easily, and hear descriptions of images.

Structure is important for screen readers – use the built-in tools for styles, lists, and format

Alternative Text – all images and visuals must be described by using “alt text” features in order for screen readers to present a description of the item to the user.

Hyperlinks – rename hyperlinks to describe page and content (for electronic access); ensure links are active; e.g., Disability Services rather than

Run accessibility checks within documents

Use high contrast colors (color blind access)

Remove animations (photosensitive epilepsy/seizures)

Key Features of Accessible Word Documents

Save documents as docx in order to run the Accessibility Checker – File: Check for Issues: Check Accessibility

Add Title and Author information – File: Add a Title; File: Add an Author

Keep tables simple and on one page – Insert Table and use Table Tools ; Add a Caption via Caption on References tab; Add a Title and Description via right-click Table Properties: add a Title and add a Description of the table’s contents; Identify Header Row via Table Tools: Design: Check the Header Row box

Screen readers don’t see bold

Add alternative text to pictures and objects – via right-click the object: Format: Layout & Properties: Expand the Alt Text section: type a description of the object into the Title and Description boxes.

Use uniform Headings- via Styles tab (makes the document searchable; screen reader can extract a list of headings, scan the list, and efficiently go to the content of interest).

Rename hyperlinks to describe page and contents – Select the link and click Hyperlink on the Insert tab to open the Edit Hyperlink dialog.  Type a phrase in Text to Display box to briefly describe the link destination.

Use List Features – readable by assistive technologies; don’t create your own lists (e.g., asterisks = bad)

Run the Accessibility Checker – File: Check for Issues: Check Accessibility; click on the error to see where the error is in the document; look at the bottom of the Accessibility Checker box for Additional Information: Why Fix and step-by-step instructions on how to fix.

Tab through tables to make sure the reading order is correct; fix as necessary

Key Features of Accessible PDF Documents

o   Image only is not accessible

o   Tags are necessary for all content to indicate reading order and improve navigation; creating logical reading order is an essential part of making PDFs accessible

o   Alt text must be added to all visuals, images, tables, and charts

o   Tab order for navigation

o   To make the document reader accessible go to the Tools tab and add the Accessibility tool to the Shortcut Menu

o   Accessibility Tools will be in a Tools Menu to the right of the working document.

o   Different types of data must be coded or “tagged” so assistive technologies can decipher the information.  Use the Autotag Document tool to remove and update tags.  Manual edits will still need to be made.

o   Run the Full Check tool to assess the document and create a list of Issues that need fixed.  Click the error next to the bold item to see a dropdown list of the issues.  A blue circle with a question mark notes items that need manual review for accuracy.  A red circle with an X requires updating.

o   Add a Title to the document if necessary

o   Add Alternative Text to any images in the document; Accessibility Checker: Alternate Text drop-down menu: List of Figures: Click on the figure notification to go to the item in the document.

o   Touch up reading order – correct and replace tags on each page.  Tags can be created via the Tools Menu in the Accessibility section: Reading Order: Touch Up Reading Order (TURO) window to see options for editing item tags.

Correct according to Content Type:  Text and Headings; Figures; Alternative Text; Tables; items seen by the assistive technology but does not appear on the screen – eliminate via the Item Selection and Order Process – Show Order Panel helps with this organization of Content, Order, and Tags on pages.

  • After tags have been fixed run the Full Check again to make sure all items have been tagged and are correctly read and ordered.
  • Add Bookmarks for easy navigation; Click Bookmarks: Settings: New Bookmarks from Structure: H1 and H2 easily creates bookmarks if the headings have been properly tagged.  Click OK to accept the Bookmarks List.

Contact Information

Academic Support Center

Andrew Sydlik

Kristy Drobney

Center for Teaching & Learning


IT Training & Support

IT Helpdesk. 


Contact your Liaison Librarian for 

General Questions

Microsoft Word Documents

Accessible PDFs