Creating Accessible Online Electronic Course Documents

Creating Accessible Online Electronic Course Documents

UAA is committed to ensuring that all of its students – regardless of disability or other challenges – can accomplish their academic goals. 

MS Word for Windows: Accessible DocumentS

Here's how to use Word features to establish a document structure that allows assistive technology devices to reflect the meaning of the document to diverse learners accurately and efficiently. Start by simply learning to use Word features!

  • Create headings to "outline" the document structure using built-in styles in Word. Arrange headings in order (i.e. H1, H2, H3). Home tab, styles group.
  • Add Alt text to images, diagrams, SmartArt, and tables that describes what's important in the image. Right-click, Format Picture, layout and properties, Alt text.
  • Create lists using the built-in bullet or numbered lists in Word. Home tab, paragraph group.
  • Give every hyperlink meaningful display text (e.g. not "click here"). Right-click, Hyperlink.
  • Insert tables using built-in features with an identified Header Row with labels. Avoid merging cells. Click in your table, Table Tools Design, Table Style Options group, Header Row check box.
  • Run the Word Accessibility Checker and address all errors by clicking and fixing! File, Info, Check for Issues, Check Accessibility.
  • Convert to PDF using File, Export, Create PDF/XPS and check the box for document structure tags for accessibility. (Do not print to PDF.)

If you are dealing with a document created by someone else in some other application, the following Word features can help you clear previous formatting and "see" what is going on in the document. 

  • Clear All Formatting Tool. Home tab, font group.
  • Paste Options, keep text only. Home tab, Clipboard group.
  • Show/Hide non printing symbols. Home tab, font group.
  • View ruler for adjusting tabs and indents. View tab, show group.


Microsoft Make your Word Documents Accessible

Accessibility Checklist: Word 2016

Accessible Documents Slides

CAFE Workshop Spring 2018

What does it mean to create and post an accessible document in online environments?

An accessible document is an electronic document that is universally designed and saved in a format that most students can easily access electronically. The standard format is creating documents in Microsoft Word or Google Docs and saving and posting a copy as an Adobe .PDF file. This blog post covers using Microsoft Word 2013 or 2016 to create accessible online course documents.

What if I don't currently have my online documents saved as a compatible .PDF?

If your current electronic documents are not saved as compatible .PDF files you can easily update them and save them this way for your next course using Microsoft Word 2013 or 2016 software. Make a plan to update, following the Quick Guide Notes and/or tutorial below as you design your next course.

What if it looks like making these changes will take an excessive amount of time because of the detail of my course content?

UAA faculty, and many other faculty who have begun to rely heavily on online course content, are all feeling this time pressure. The best choice is to begin to update content beginning with the first documents first. Start by updating titles using Styles and adding Alt Text to images and tables as you update course syllabi for the upcoming semester. You are going to review these documents already, so using this time to review and update them for accessibility will help keep your review time under control. 

What if I have not done this before, how do I get started?

Below is a tutorial with explanations and images to assist you in adding styles to text and alt text to images and tables in your documents. If you need additional assistance contact Academic Innovations & eLearning for support.

Accessible & Print Version of Formatting Accessible Text Documents


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