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Accessibility Bytes #1: Use Document Accessibility Checkers

Need to create a Microsoft Word document but not sure how to make certain it meets Section 508 standards?

Before sharing or publishing your document, presentation, or spreadsheet, run the built-in Accessibility Checker to make sure your Microsoft Office content does not have easily identifiable accessibility issues. Run the Word Accessibility Checker in three-steps:

  1. On the Word ribbon, select the Review tab. 

  2. Select Check Accessibility.

  3. In the Accessibility panel that opens on the side, review the results. You’ll see a list of errors, warnings, and tips with how-to-fix recommendations for each.

Microsoft Word document highlighting the Review ribbon, Check Accessibility button, and the Accessibility panel.
Figure 1. Microsoft Word document highlighting the Review ribbon, Check Accessibility button, and the Accessibility panel.

Other authoring tools may include built-in accessibility checkers or similar plug-ins including tools to create or test PDF documents. In fact, these automated checkers may also be available to creators of websites, content management platforms, and software and mobile application development. However, it’s important to know these automated checkers are limited in what they can accurately evaluate and may present false positives or fail to report issues. Therefore, to ensure your document, website or software application is fully accessible, manual testing must be performed as well.

Authoring guides, checklists and short video tutorials are available at Create Accessible Documents to help you ensure your documents are accessible.

Creating a presentation, spreadsheet or PDF? You can learn how to create other accessible products by visiting Create Accessible Digital Products on this website.

Still have questions? Reach out to your agency’s Section 508 Program Manager or contact us at Section.508@gsa.gov.

To subscribe to, manage, or unsubscribe from Accessibility Bytes, visit GSA Email Updates.

Reviewed/Updated: May 2024

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