Online course documents should have carefully planned, and well organized, visual structure. Clearly worded headings help all students, including those with disabilities, to navigate documents more easily and with greater understanding. If you aren’t convinced that headings and structure affect meaning, consider the difference between these two examples adapted from page 36 of Norman Coombs’ excellent book Making Online Teaching Accessible, Jossey-Bass (2010).
As Coombs says, “without any advance knowledge, the reader might assume the items in the left-hand list were cities. On the right, however, because of the structure – the formatting of the headings – it is clear that the items make up two lists of cities in two different states” (p. 36).
You must use Styles to make headings distinguishable from the rest of the text to screen-reading software. If Styles are not used to create a document, the screen-reader will read the both the example on the right and the example on the left as: New York, Albany, Buffalo, Washington, Spokane, Seattle. Read it out loud to yourself and see, without prior knowledge, if you would know that New York and Washington are states, not cities, if the document were read to you in that way. For all qualified students to have access to course material, as required by law, Word documents must be accessible.
How do I create accessible Word documents?
- You must use Styles to make your document accessible to adaptive devices.
- Pictures and images must be tagged with Alt Text to make them legible to adaptive devices.
Last Updated February 8, 2023