Sighted viewers can scan a page and use visual cues like larger or bold text to find
the section of a document that they want to read. However, for someone using a screen
reader, these visual markups are useless - leaving them to navigate word by word from
the start of the document or webpage until they find the section they want.
Using styles and headings will allow a screen reader to navigate from section to section,
making for a more convenient experience for that user.
Add Alt Text to Images
Right click on the image.
Select 'Format Picture'.
Click on 'Alt-text' and type a description of the image.
If the image is purely decorative and you want a screen reader to skip over it, make
sure to go in and check to make sure the file name is not listed as default alt-text.
Instead, press the spacebar, then enter to create null alt text.
Note: Enter your alt text into the description field, not the title.
Use Formatted Lists
Use bulleted or numbered lists by using Word's formatting tools (not by typing the
numbers or dashes yourself).
Note: Using the list formatting tool allows a screen reader to determine the length
of the list and the reader can understand how the content is organized and how many
items are on the list.
Format Tables Appropriately
Screen readers will read a table from left to right starting at the top. The relationship
between the cells is not defined by a screen reader if it is not formatted correctly
(the category that a piece of data falls into will not be identified by the screen
reader). Use MS Word's Table Tools editor to identify the different types of rows
Columns: Use true columns, not tab, spacebar or blank lines or text boxes to move
Extra Spaces: Use the page break tool (not a series of spaces) to move to a separate
Check Accessibility: Use Word's Review/Spelling & Grammar Checker
After clicking through all the recommended grammar, spelling and punctuation suggestions,
the 'Readability Statistics' will display, including word counts, sentence averages,
and readability statistics.
Most important are the 'Readability Statistics' including
Flesch Reading Ease - The higher the number the more difficult the reading ease
Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level - Corresponds to the US grade level necessary to comprehend