Skip to:

Making electronic documents accessible

These resources can help make sure your documents are accessible to everyone.


Overview

Document accessibility applies to all documents created for citizens or state employees, whether they are posted to a web site, a file sharing application or distributed through email. When you follow accessibility standards, your document can be accessed by everyone, regardless of physical abilities.

In general, accessible documents have:

  • Structural formatting, like headings, tables and lists that allow users to navigate the document.
  • Descriptive text that explains pictures, charts and graphs to users.
  • Layout, design and color that makes the content accessible to use and understand.

The principal concepts of document accessibility will help you meet the State of Minnesota accessibility standard.

The instructions outlined in the Resource section relate specifically to Microsoft Word documents, but the same basic concepts can be applied to all Microsoft Office programs. Additional formatting and settings will be needed to make Adobe PDF documents accessible.


Did you know?

Accessible documents open faster on mobile devices.

 
 

Word Documents


Making electronic documents accessible

Microsoft Office products, with the exception of Visio, can be accessible when they are used for their intended purpose. Always use:

  • Microsoft Word as a word processing and layout tool
  • Microsoft PowerPoint as a presentation tool
  • Microsoft Excel as a spreadsheet tool

If you create electronic documents, these resources can help make sure your documents are accessible to everyone.

Using Microsoft Word 2010 to Create Accessible Documents provides online training in six modules with step-by-step instructions that demonstrate proper formatting for text, images, charts and graphs, accessible tables and forms. 

This course has been developed by the State of Minnesota to help state employees meet accessibility standards, and focuses on how state employees can use Microsoft Word 2010 to create accessible documents. The concepts outlined in this course reflect the accessibility standards identified for all State of Minnesota documents, and can be applied to other Microsoft Office products, such as Excel and PowerPoint.

Checklist for Accessible Word and PDF Documents    (Word Document)     (PDF)

Creating Accessible Word Documents: a link to Microsoft’s online accessibility guidance 

Microsoft Style Basics: Instructions for using the Styles feature on Microsoft's website.

Social Security Administration Accessibility resources for software developers and electronic content creators  The SSA Accessibilility Resource Center offerings include a 129-page document with detailed step-by-step instructions for creating accessible documents in Microsoft Word 2003 and 2007.

 
 

PDF Documents


Creating accessible PDF documents

The PDF (portable document format) is a good way to deliver complex or heavily formatted electronic documents such as manuals, guidelines, and technical references.

We recommend that you take a training course before attempting to perform any conversions to PDF. Even better: establish a workflow at your department or agency to funnel PDF conversion and testing through trained staff.

If you're that person, here are some useful references:


 
 

Resources


Online training

Using Microsoft Word 2010 to Create Accessible Documents provides six modules with step-by-step instructions that demonstrate proper formatting for text, images, charts and graphs, accessible tables and forms.

This course has been developed by the State of Minnesota to help state employees meet accessibility standards, and focuses on how state employees can use Microsoft Word 2010 to create accessible documents. The concepts outlined in this course reflect the accessibility standards identified for all State of Minnesota documents, and can be applied to other Microsoft Office products, such as Excel and PowerPoint. (Audio Transcript PDF)


Other Resources

Social Security Administration Accessibility resources for software developers and electronic content creators  The SSA Accessibility Resource Center offerings include a 129-page document with detailed step-by-step instructions for creating accessible documents in Microsoft Word 2003 and 2007.

Section508 Universe Training  offers online courses for web designers and developers, procurement coordinators, and accessibility coordinators, including topics on accessible video, multimedia and conferencing.