Microsoft Office Accessibility Evaluations

Microsoft Office Accessibility Evaluations
Content TypeDescriptionHow to Check/Test 

Document Markup

Document has meta tags
  • Author
  • Title

File > Properties


  • Heading styles give a document structure by category or topic (Heading 1 through 6).
    • Heading 1: Document Title or a major section
    • Heading 2: Major subsection titles
    • Heading 3: Further subsection titles, and so forth
  • Use of headings to ease navigation within a document.
  •  Headings allow for a table of contents to be generated automatically.


  • View tab
  • Select Navigation Pane

PowerPoint: PowerPoint does not use headings instead of using slide title. Every slide should have meaning and unique title. If the same topic, add i.e. 1 of 3, 2 of 3, 3 of 3.


  • Avoid extremely long and wordy sections.
  • Avoid unusual word, jargon, and acronyms as possible.
  • Provide definition or explanation for abbreviation.
  • Avoid center align paragraph.
  • Use strong not bold; emphasis not italic.
  • Use different visual elements such as color, fonts, spacing and imagery to increase readability.
  • Manually inspect whether the paragraph alignment (saccade reading behavior).
  • Manually inspect the page to find repeated, unusual wording.
  • Manually inspect the page to find abbreviation, acronyms or jargon without explanation.
  • Manually inspect the page for any confusing wording, instructions that create confliction.


  • Images have descriptive alternative text.
  • Be brief and descriptive.
  • “Image of…” or “photo of…” or “graphic of…” is not needed.
  • Images should have captions if the images convey complicated information, this will provide equal access to all users.
  • Images should be visibly easy to comprehend (not pixilated, not too small, etc.)
  • Limit the use of text as images. 
Review if images have alternative text. Right-click to select "Edit Alt Text” to see if images have descriptive alternative text. 


  1. Select colors with deep contrast between the foreground and background.
  2. Provide captions if using color to convey meaning i.e. which section is highlighted in red?
  1. Use the Colour Contrast Analyzer to ensure accessible contrast.
  2. Review the document to identify if only color is used to convey info.


  • Links should be clear and directly relate to the title or heading of the linked page.
  • Use “Visit the Universal Design Center” instead of “Click here for more details.”
  • Do not use the same link text to refer to different resources.
  • Do not use different link text to refer the same resources.
  • Review all the links in the page.
  • Visually verify that the following phrases are not used as links: Click Here, Read More, More, More information.
  • Review the link text to make sure it is descriptive enough to understand where it will lead.
  • Check to see if there are any link text’s that have the same text.
  • Check the link to see if it leads to an active page.
  • Best Practices for Accessible Links



  • Use tables to organize data not format as layout.
  • Tables are read from left to right, top to bottom.
  • Do not create table using the Draw Table Tool.
  • Avoid merged, split, or blank cells.
  • If data tables are present in document, they must have:
    1. Provide title (i.e. Caption) and Summary
    2. Heading cells for columns or rows
  • Title your table using the Caption tool
    • Right click to select Insert Caption or
    • Go to References tab, then select Insert Caption
    • In the popup window, type the title of the table in the Caption textbox
    • In the Label textbox, select Table
    • Position textbox, select Above selected item then select OK
  • Table Header Cells
    • Table tools added to the Ribbon when Table is created or selected
    • Header checkboxes found under Design tab
      • Header Row (Column headers)
      • First Column (Row Headers)

If ‘Repeat as header row at the top of each page’ isn’t selected, table headers will be ignored when exporting as a PDF and won’t be read by screen reader.

  • Right-click the first row of the table and select Table Properties.
  • On the Row tab, make sure the checked Repeat as header row at the top of each page and unchecked Allow row to break across pages. Click OK.
  • Repeat these steps for all tables in the document. Save the document.

Visit Guide for Creating Accessible Table (pdf)


Reading Order

Screen readers read a document from left-to-right and up-to-down. That means reading order is important for users with visual impairments. When content, tables, images or charts is out of order or a document is poorly organized, the reader can become confused to the meaning of the information. The reading order should be the same as visual order for English language.

Word: Logical reading order: Read information from left to right and from top to bottom. 

PowerPoint: To check or fix reading order, select Home > Arrange > Selection Pane. Reading order is shown in reverse, bottom to top in the Selection pane.


Videos, captured lectures, recorded presentations for instructional media must all have captions.
  • Videos embedded in Microsoft Office are not accessible when the file is converted to Acrobat PDF. The video becomes an image.
  • Embedded videos are not accessible to screen reader users or users navigating with a keyboard or some other navigation device other than a mouse.
  • An alternative put the link of the video underneath the video itself. 

 Accessibility Checker

The checker will scan for errors and provide tips on how to fix them. Use the built-in Accessibility Check in Microsoft Office. 

Review tab > Check Accessibility button

PowerPoint: Use Outline View for a quick check of text accessibility. Ensure title and body text are identified correctly in each slide. 

Microsoft Office Accessibility Checker guide


Testing and Learning Tools