• 39th CSUN Assistive Technology Conference - March 18-22, 2024 at the Anaheim Marriott

    The Premier AT Conference

39th Annual CSUN Assistive Technology Conference Has Concluded

Using Word Templates to Promote Accessible Headings & Tables

Date & Time
Friday, March 22, 2024 - 3:20 PM PDT  
Grand CD  

One of the hardest accessibility concepts to explain is the need for semantic headings – partly because most writers do insert visual headings. For many editors using Word, there are several challenges to adding accessibility features. For headings, they include:

  • Semantic headings are based on Word Styles, a more advanced formatting tool than those for bold, italics and font changes.
  • The default Style implementation of Headings as blue text is not an preferred option.
  • The difference between using a Heading style versus the bold/italics/font tools is not immediately apparent to sighted users.

Similar barriers can be seen in adding table headers (where changes are not always visible) and accessible link text (harder than inserting a URL link).

To make accessibility easier for instructors, a series of Word templates have been developed based on a syllabus. The syllabus was chosen because it is used in all courses but also includes elements like headings, tables for grading/schedule, link text to policy statements and often images requiring alt text.

Multiple training options have been developed to help instructors use and tweak files as they desire. Video demos introduce instructors to the Headings or Document Map view of the document in which a panel shows a clickable table of document generated from headings. The training also includes how a syllabus template can be repurposed for any document including reports, journal articles and informational handouts.

This Presentation Link (PPTX) is provided by the Presenter(s) and not hosted by the Center on Disabilities at CSUN. The Center on Disabilities has confirmed, as of April 4, 2024, content linked is relevant to the presentation, but has not been reviewed for accessibility nor will the Center on Disabilities attempt to remediate any accessibility issues in the linked content. Please contact the Presenter(s) with any accessibility concerns.

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Audience Level
Session Summary (Abstract)
We will demo the Penn State Accessible Syllabus project that gives instructors different options for creating an accessible syllabus in Microsoft Word. This session also reviews how the templates can help instructors understand the value of a semantic heading.  
Primary Topic
Digital Accessibility  
Secondary Topics
  • Blind/Low Vision
  • Design
  • Education
Session Type
General Track  


  • Elizabeth J Pyatt
    Penn State

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