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Creating Accessible Documentation

Creating accessible documents is about making the document available to as many people as possible. Documents should be easy to find, access and read.

Following these guidelines will help you to create documents that are compatible with assistive tools, and are designed to improve readability for everyone. You can also follow a video guide or access a Word guide to help create more accessible slide

Do

Don't

Why

How

Do write using language that is as simple as the topic will allow

Don't use long sentences and paragraphs, Readers can digest information faster if presented in bite-sized easy-to-read chunks Find out more information about writing in plain English
Do provide explanations for technical terms, acronyms and abbreviations. Do not use slang or idioms Makes information harder to understand and may alienate those who are not familiar with the terms used  
Do keep the structure and layout of your document as simple as possible.   A simple structure will make it easier for a screen reader to accurately navigate the document.  

Do keep tables simple in structure and format the header row and first column.

Add alt text to describe the key data/points highlighted in the table

Don't nest tables or merge and split cells

Tables that have a complex structure can cause problems for screen readers  

Do use bulleted and numbered lists

Don't manually create lists. Use the tools provided for numbering and bulleting points

Lists provide structure to a document and make it easier for screen readers to understand how the content is organised Create a bulleted or numbered list
Do use a sans serif fonts

Do not write in block capitals and italics

Certain fonts are easier to read.

Text written in block capitals is harder to read

University of Warwick branding guidelines on using fonts
Do left aligned text and use a minimum of 12pt (18pt for PowerPoint Presentations) Do not centre or justify text Left aligned text is easier to read How to align text 
Do use Headings and Styles Do not format normal text as a heading Headings improve document navigation. Formatted text is not recognised as a heading by word processors and will not work with assistive technology, or for creating automatic table of contents Learn how to Apply Styles
Do use the next available heading level for each subsection. For example Heading 3 should be used as a subsection of Heading 2 Do not skip levels for example use Heading 4 as a subsection of Heading 2 Headings improve document navigation if used correctly, and can be used to create automatic table of contents  
Do use the “Title” Style for your document heading and the "TOC" (Table of Contents) Heading style to create the contents heading Do not use heading 1 for your title and Table of Contents Headings The Title style is not a heading and will be excluded from the any automatic table of contents Learn how to insert a table of contents
       
Do use the Paragraph tools to indent text and add additional line spacing after paragraphs Do not enter additional carriage returns or indent using the space bar to create blank space.   Adjust the spacing before and after headings or paragraphs.

Do use secondary indicators when using colours to differentiate items. Consider using labels, patterns, icons or images to help people distinguish between coloured items

Do not use colours alone to indicate status

Do not select colour combinations that are known to be difficult to read

A high proportion of individuals experience some form of colour blindness.

 

Do have good contrast between items for example background images and text

Avoid placing text over images

Poor contrast can make reading difficult

Off-white background are better for people with dyslexia

Do indicate when an image is only used for decorative purposes   People using screen readers will know that they are not missing important information if a image is marked a decorative Add alternative text
Do add ALT text to images, charts and diagrams Don't rely on AI to generate your ALT in newer versions of Microsoft Office. Always check it for accuracy. ALT text describes the image or chart to those using assistive technologies  
Don't use text boxes   Text boxes are floating objects and cause reading order difficulties for those using assistive technologies  
Do make hyperlinks descriptive and use the same text for each link in the document with the same destination Don't use click here and read more People using screen readers need to know purpose of the hyperlink and its destination  

Do avoid using a URL in documents. Do create a shorter descriptive link if it is necessary to use a URL. Request a go do Warwick Address

Don't use URLs in your document if it is not necessary

Some URLs can be very long and people using screen readers will find it difficult to understand where the link is going to. Request a Warwick go address
Do use a colour to make hyperlinks stand out. Consider underlining links or changing the colour of the font Don't use colours with poor contrast It is important to make hyperlinks clear so that readers can easily distinguish links from text. Edit or change the appearance of a hyperlink
Do use the built in Accessibility Checker in Microsoft products Don't rely solely on the checker. Visually inspect the ALT text Accessibility checker will point out some but not necessarily all errors Find out more about the Accessibility Checker
Do try the accessibility templates available through Office online.   You can use accessibility templates to help make your content accessible to anyone Get accessibility templates or view the Accessible Template Sampler as an example.
Do follow the video guides to help create more accessible slides.     Do follow the video guides to help create more accessible slides.