Microsoft Word - Does your document meet accessibility standards?

How to check your MS Word document for accessibility issues.

Microsoft Accessibility Checker

How to access the MS Word Accessibility Checker

The Accessibility Checker flags three different issues: Errors, Warnings, and Tips.
  1. Error: Occurs when content makes a file difficult or impossible for people with disabilities to understand. 
  2. Warning: A warning will occur when content that in most, but not all, cases makes a file difficult for people with disabilities to understand.  
  3. Tips: You will see a tip when content that people with disabilities can understand, but that might be better organized or presented in a way that can improve their experience. 

Accessibility Checker Rules


  • Objects have alternate (alt) text 
    Alternate text helps readers understand information presented in pictures and other objects.
    [Objects: Pictures, Clip Art, Charts, Tables, Pivot Tables, Shapes, SmartArt graphics, Embedded objects, Ink, Video and audio files]
    The AC checks to make sure that:
    • All objects use alternate text
    • Alternate text doesn't contain an image or file extension.

      How to add alternate text to your object:
      1. Right click on the object and then click Format > Alt Text.
      2. Type a description of the object into the Title and Description text fields.
      3. Click Close when finished.

  • Tables specify column header information  
    The AC checks to make sure that:
    • Tables have header row indicated or are in Table Normal style in [Word].

      How to include a table header row:
      1. Select the table and highlight the rows you want to be the header
      2. Click Layout > Repeat Header Rows.

  • Long documents use styles to provide structure
    The AC checks to make sure that:
    • Headings and/or a Table of Contents have been used in a file to help organize the content.

      How to apply heading styles throughout your document:
      1. Select the text intended to become a heading.
      2. Click Home and then select the appropriate level heading style from the Quick Styles gallery.
        [NOTE: It is helpful to have a heading at least every two pages in your document.]