Top 10 Accessibility Tips

At our recent event, where we discussed accessibility for all, Katie Humphries from Accessibility Made Easy provided us with these top 10 tips for improving accessibility when working with documents.  Read on to find out her suggestions, or download a copy of her tips as a PDF.

1. Keep it simple

  • Don’t assume that everyone has the same level of knowledge as you
  • Avoid jargon or complex terms
  • Type out acronyms the first time you use them

2. Choose an accessible font

  • Use Sans Serif fonts (e.g. Arial, Calibri, Tahoma)
  • Minimum 12 point
  • Ensure you have sufficient colour contrast

3. Don’t overuse formatting

  • Don’t use all caps
  • Don’t bold whole paragraphs
  • Avoid italics
  • Only underline links
  • Left align text

4. Write useful alternative text

  • Keep it short and simple
  • Think about context (a family hugging at a party is different to a family hugging at a funeral)
  • Don’t put text in images – screen readers can’t read them, unless you provide alternative text
  • Mark graphics as ‘decorative’ where appropriate

5. Only use tables for data

  • Don’t use tables for design purposes
  • Always have a heading column and/or row
  • Don’t use merged fields, avoid empty cells

6. Use meaningful link text

Screen reader users need to know where a link is going.

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7. Use headings correctly

  • Don’t just bold text
  • Use styles in Word, not manually applied direct formatting
  • Use headings in the correct order
  • Add a table of contents

8. Make use of free tools

(If permitted by your organisation – do check if there are any security restrictions you need to comply with.)

9. Test it!

  • Use the built-in accessibility checkers in Word and PowerPoint
  • Bear in mind these tools won’t show you all errors, like missing headings

10. Offer alternatives

  • Provide alternative contact details
  • Don’t offer QR codes in insolation, provide alternatives
  • Easy read or plain English alternatives
  • Consider – Does it need to be a document at all?  Could it be a more accessible web page instead?