Word Documents

What’s the “word” with Word Docs?

Do you use Microsoft Word files in your course? Perhaps you use them to provide written lectures or for student assignments (or any other reason). Let’s make sure they’re accessible.

Quick Fixes

A few items you can quickly fix in your current Word documents. While these may not address all issues of accessibility in your files, they are sure to get your document closer to ADA functional.


FONT SIZE Use 12-point or larger for body text, and 18-point or larger for titles or headings.

FONT TYPE Don’t use Times New Roman (I know, mind blown). Use Tahoma, Helvetica, or Arial (to name a few alternatives).

COLORS Use contrasting colors (e.g., black and white, blue and yellow). Don’t use color to emphasize meaning (there are various forms of colorblindness and there are no magic colors that all forms can see).

ALTERNATIVE TEXT FOR VISUAL CONTENT Visual content includes pictures, SmartArt graphics, shapes, groups, charts, embedded objects, ink, and videos. Alt text helps people who can’t see the screen to understand what’s important in images and other visuals.


ACCESSIBILITY CHECKER Use Word’s built in accessibility checker. This will not identify all accessibility challenges, but does help identify common issues.


In addition to the items on the left, if the word document is an assignment that your students will complete with their computers, avoid this common format.

Name: __________(underscores)

Date: __________(underscores)

A student that is relying on a screen reader will hear, literally, “Name underscore underscore underscore underscore…”.

The quick fix: Just use, “Name:” “Date:” without the underscores.

This is the quick fix, but there is a better, more accessible solution that you may consider applying instead. See FILLABLE FORMS below.