Accessible Documents

Document Structure

A well-structured document creates an interactive contents list that can be used as a document summary for learners with a print impairment including those who are blind or partially sighted or learners with dyslexia.

There are many benefits of using headings and styles when creating Word documents.

Navigating any document is much easier for both the reader and the document creator. The document takes on a consistent appearance, with elements like headings standing out clearly.

It ensures that all the formatting in the document remains consistent both within a single document and when it is used as a template, across an organisation.  Word provides several pre-set styles but it is very simple to customise each heading level to create your own house style,  personal preference or specific document such as a case study or report format

Using styles means that you can quickly and efficiently change the design of the document as a heading will be updated according to its classification.  This means that if you change the style of Heading 2 then all the headings designated as Heading 2 within the document will pick up the new format.

Using headings means that an easy to navigate and access interactive table of contents is automatically created.

screen shot showing the relationship between headings and document navigation
Headings create an interactive contents list

Correctly structured documents allow for easier conversion to other formats, such as PDF and HTML.  Government advice on the creation of accessible PDFs is to make them from well-structured word documents.

In order to create an accessible PDF document from a well-structured Word document.  Save the document as a web page (HTML) first and then open it using a commercial pdf writer or free software such as Foxit Reader.

Adding Alt Text to Images

When using images, graphics or graphical representation of information it is essential to provide the information as text.  Not all learners will be able to either see or interpret an image or graph.  This can be achieved in several ways, including describing the image in the text of the document, adding a caption, or adding an alternative text description.

The University of Colorado provides step by step guidance on adding Alt text to images.


Accessible Content