Word Document Accessibility Checklist & Guidance
The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) is committed to providing content on the VDOE website that is accessible to all. As of January 18, 2018, all new content on the VDOE website must meet W3C’s WCAG 2.0 Level AA compliance. To create an accessible Microsoft Word document for posting on the VDOE website, the checklist and guidance provided must be followed. In addition, to remain on the VDOE website older relevant web content must be converted to meet W3C’s WCAG 2.0 Level AA compliance no later than January 18, 2019. Any web content that is not compliant on that date is subject for removal from the VDOE website.
Before creating an accessible document, consider adapting the information into webpage content. Read Web Content Options: Webpage, Word or PDF? for more guidance on selecting the proper format for your content.
The Vision Australia Document Accessibility Toolbar (DAT) is free downloadable, dedicated accessibility-ribbon menu for Microsoft Word that makes it quicker and easier to create accessible documents. VDOE recommends that staff install and use the DAT to help with creating accessible content.
This checklist outlines the recommended steps to create an accessible Word Document for posting on the VDOE website. Detailed information about each checklist item is provided in the following guidance section. For quick reference and planning, you can also download the VDOE Word Document Accessibility Checklist handout-This is a Word document. (Word).
- Set File Type & Name
- Is the file saved as a .docx?
- Is the file name lowercase with hyphens for spaces and contains NO special characters?
- Is the document file name concise, generally limited to 25 characters, and does it make the contents of the file clear?
- Provide Document Title
- Does the file have a document title?
- Identify Document Language
- Is the document language identified?
- Use Appropriate Font Style and Size
- Times New Roman with 12-point font size is recommended for body text.
- Use Built-in Headings/Styles
- Is the document structured using built-in styles for heading (not just manually changing text to bold, italics and/or a different font size)?
- Are the headings in sequential order? (don't skip from H2 to H4)
- Use Built-in Lists
- Are lists (bulleted and numbered) created with the built-in features in Word?
- Use Built-in Columns
- Are columns created with the built-in features in Word?
- Create In-line Text Boxes
- If text boxes must be used, are they in line with text?
- Create Unambiguous Names for Links
- Is the destination, function or purpose described in the link name or surrounding text?
- Have you avoided using "Click Here" or "Learn More?"
- Use Built-in Feature to Create the Table of Contents
- If the document contains a table of contents, was it created with the built-in features in Word?
- Do Not Rely on Color Convey Meaning
- Is all information conveyed without relying on color?
- Meet the Required Color Contrast
- Is there enough contrast between the background and foreground?
- Include Alternative Text for Images & Objects
- If the picture, clipart, chart, graph, shape or SmartArt graphic conveys information, is alternative text provided AND is the object placed in line with text?
- If the picture, clipart or shape is added for visual emphasis or decoration, is "decorative" entered as the alternative text? (Note: Decorative images do not have to be placed in line.)
- Are multiple associated images on the same page (e.g., boxes in an organizational chart) grouped as one object with one alternative text?
- Use Tables for Data Only
- Is there only one row of headers set?
- Is the table simple with no nested tables, merged or split cells, or blank cells for formatting?
- If the table is complex, is a description provided?
- Repeat Vital Information Included in Headers, Footers & Watermarks
- Is vital information from the header, footer or watermark duplicated in the document?
- Avoid Forms
- Were fillable form fields excluded from the document?
Ensure Accessibility Compliance
- Test for Compliance
- Was the document checked using the built-in Microsoft accessibility checker?
- Can you navigate the presentation using only the keyboard?
- Provide Accessible Alternative Versions
- Has a separate accessible version of the document been provided when there is no other way to make the content accessible? (Example: Organization Chart)