While the procedure for creating documents is different depending upon the file type, there are some general practices for all documents. The purpose of this page is serve as reminders and provide resources, this does not replace training to create accessible documents.
Headings provide structure and navigation to documents. Ensure headings are in sequential order (do not skip one, i.e. Heading 1 is followed by Heading 2, not Heading 4). They must also be designated as headings. In Word, this is done using styles, in PowerPoint they are designated through the slide master, and in HTML and PDF, they are designated by tags. Generally, there is only one Heading 1 in a document.
Link text needs to be descriptive, human readable and make sense out of context. There are no minimums or maximums for link text. Making sense out of context means that the reader understands where the link leads even if they do not read the text around it.
When text is underlined, even in a Word/PowerPoint/PDF document, it is recognized as a link. Therefore, do not underline words that are not links, such as, headings or for emphasis. For emphasis, use bold or italic. In HTML, make sure to use the
<em> </em> and
<strong> </strong> tags to denote emphasis.
For more information about accessible links, read Link Text and Appearance from WebAIM.
Images can add interest to your document but can also be difficult for a screen reader. Make sure that images you use have little to no text. If your image has a lot of text, you will need to also include the information in the text around it. Images need to have alt (short for alternative) text.
Tables should be used for tabular data, not for layout. In the past, tables were the method used to layout documents. With modern updates to software, you do not need and should not use tables for layout. Here are a few tips for tables.
A reminder for documents that include other media. Videos must be captioned and audio files must have a transcript with the audio description.