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Leverage Software Accessibility Tools

Many producers of text documents and presentations are unaware that free, easy tools are available to help ensure basic accessibility of their digital files. These tools can identify such errors as missing alternative text from images, missing or discrepant levels of headings, and even missing content for screen reader users.

Microsoft Office

Beginning with Microsoft Office 2010, a basic accessibility checker is available. This tool identifies definite errors in accessibility, such as missing alt text; warnings about situations that could be problematic but are not necessarily errors; and tips to help the user even more.

In addition, Microsoft Word provides a Navigation Pane view that shows all headings on a page; a user may check whether a given document has been styled with proper headings and that the headings are at the proper levels.

A common accessibility mistake by PowerPoint users—and one that is detrimental for those using screen readers—is manually inserting text boxes rather than using PowerPoint's layouts. Screen readers cannot read content of these text boxes, so users of screen readers will not be able to read the text provided via these text boxes. Microsoft PowerPoint's Outline View shows whether a user’s slides include text readable to screen readers. If no text appears for a given slide in this view, the user may then replace the text box with a PowerPoint layout area. The Outline View also shows each slide’s title, which is required for good accessibility. If a slide has no title, the user may add it, even off the slide canvas, for readability by a screen reader.

Support Resources

Google Suite

Although Google itself does not provide an internal accessibility checker for its apps, Grackle Docs can help to ensure better accessibility with Google Docs and Sheets, and a checker for Google Slides is on the horizon. Some features of Grackle Docs are fee based, but the Accessibility Basic version provides basic checks that can help immensely.

Support Resources

Grackle Docs Features

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