Rules used by the Accessibility Checker

To make sure that everyone can read your file, run the Accessibility Checker. It flags issues and provides instructions for fixing them.

The Accessibility Checker flags three different issues: errors, warnings, and tips.

Errors

You see an error when content makes a file very difficult or impossible for people with disabilities to understand.

Rule Name Program Accessibility Checker checks that:
All objects have alternate text Excel, PowerPoint, Word
  • All objects use alternate text
  • Alternate text doesn’t contain an image or file extension.
Tables specify column header information

Excel, PowerPoint,

Word

  • The header box is selected for each block of cells marked as a table (Excel);
  • The header box is selected for each table in a deck (PowerPoint);
  • Tables have a header row indicated, or are in Table Normal style (Word).
All slides have titles PowerPoint
  • Each slide in a deck has a title.
Long documents use styles to provide structure Word
  • Headings and/or a Table of Contents have been used in file to help organize the content.

ShowDetailed explanation of Error rules:

All objects have alternate text

This rule makes sure that alternate text is available for the following objects:

  • Pictures
  • Clip Art
  • Charts
  • Tables
  • Pivot Tables
  • Shapes (that don’t contain text and are not in groups)
  • SmartArt graphics
  • Groups (all objects in this list, with the exception of shapes, must also have alternate text when in groups)
  • Embedded objects
  • Ink
  • Video and audio files

Why fix this?    Alternate text helps readers understand information presented in pictures and other objects.

How to fix this    Add alternate text to your object.

  1. Right click the object, and then click Format > Alt Text.
  2. Type a description of the object into the Title and Description text boxes.
  3. Click Close when you are finished.

Tables specify column header information

This rule makes sure data tables have a header row (excluding pivot tables). A data table is one that doesn’t have a style of “Table Normal.”

Why fix this?    A table header row contains column headings that provide context and aid navigation of the data in the table.

How to fix this    Include a header row.

  1. Select the table and highlight the rows you want to be the header.
  2. Click Layout > Repeat Header Rows.

All slides have titles

This rule makes sure people have included a title for each slide in a presentation. An easy way to think about this is to consider what appears as the top bullet for a slide in the Outline pane.

Why fix this?    Slide titles are used for navigation and selection by those who aren’t able to view the slide.

How to fix this   :

Add a visible title to your slide

  1. Click Reset on the Home tab to restore slide placeholders for the selected slide.
  2. Type a unique name in the Title text box.

Add a title that isn’t visible on your slide

  1. Click Home > Arrange > Selection Pane.
  2. Click the eye icon next to the slide title text box to change its visibility.

Long documents use styles to provide structure

This rule makes sure that authors have used built-in styles for documents about 1,200 words or longer. This helps provide structure for people who might be using a screen reader or rely on the visual reference of headings.

Why fix this?    Use headings to create structure and make it easier for users to find information in your document.

How to fix this    Apply heading styles throughout your document:

  1. Select the text intended to become a heading.
  2. Click Home, and then select the appropriate level heading style from the Quick Styles gallery.

 Note    It is helpful to have a heading at least every two pages, or so, in your document.

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Warnings

You see a warning when content that in most, but not all, cases makes a file difficult for people with disabilities to understand.

Rule Name Program Accessibility Checker checks:
Hyperlink text is meaningful Excel, PowerPoint, Word
  • Link text has a Screen Tip AND matches the link target.
Table has simple structure Excel, PowerPoint, Word
  • There are no issues that cause tables to be non-rectangular, such a split cells, merged cells or nested tables.
Tables don’t use blank cells for formatting Excel, PowerPoint, Word
  • There are no entirely blank rows or columns in a table.
Sheet tabs have non-default names Excel
  • All sheets with content in a workbook have a name other than ‘sheetn
Avoid the use of repeated ‘blank’ characters Word
  • There are no runs of blank spaces, tabs and/or carriage returns.
Headings don’t contain too much information Word
  • Headings aren’t too long
The use of floating objects is avoided Word
  • Objects have text wrapping set to ‘in line with text.’

ShowDetailed explanation of Warning rules

Hyperlink text is meaningful

This rule makes sure people have included hyperlinks in a way that they can be presented in a readable format.

A hyperlink will be flagged if:

  • The link text is identical to the destination – for example, the following is flagged: http://office.com/en-us/help/HA103691921033.xml.
  • The link text is five or fewer characters, starts with a “.’, and has no screen tip – for example, using a file extension (.pdf) for the link text is flagged.

Why fix this?    Hyperlink text should provide a clear description of the link destination instead of only providing the URL.

How to fix this    Make a hyperlink more accessible.

  1. Select the link and, click Insert > Hyperlink.
  2. In the Text to display box, type in a phrase that briefly describes the link destination.
  3. Click OK.

Table has a simple structure

This rule makes sure people haven’t used nested tables or merged or split cells inside of data tables to make sure that the data is predictable.

Why fix this?    A table should have simple, two-dimensional structure so they can be easily navigated and understood by people with disabilities.

How to fix this    Test and simplify the table structure.

  1. Select the first cell.
  2. Press the Tab key repeatedly to make sure that the focus moves across the row, first, and then down to the next row.
  3. If you need to merge or split cells to simplify the table, click Table Tools Layout > Merge Cells or Split Cells as appropriate.

Tables don’t use blank cells for formatting

This rule makes sure people haven’t used entirely blank rows or columns in a data table, which helps simplify table structure and readability for people with disabilities.

Why fix this?    Blank table cells can mislead a person with a vision disability into thinking that there is nothing more in the table.

How to fix this    Delete unnecessary blank cells.

Or if your table is only intended to layout content within your document, you can clear all table styles from your table.

  1. Select the entire table.
  2. Click Table Tools Design > the arrow next to the style gallery to expand the gallery of table styles.
  3. On the menu below the gallery, click Clear.

Sheet tabs have non-default names

This rule makes sure authors have set a meaningful name on each Excel worksheet with content in it.

Why fix this?    Default sheet names like Sheet1 make navigation through the workbook more difficult for people with disabilities. Sheet names should provide information about what is found on the sheet. Blank sheets should be removed.

How to fix this

   

Rename a sheet

  1. Right-click the sheet tab, and click Rename.
  2. Type a brief name that is descriptive of the sheet contents.

To delete a sheet, right-click the sheet tab, and click Delete.

Avoid the use of repeated blank characters

This rule makes sure that authors haven’t used consecutive blank characters (spaces, tabs, or carriage returns) instead of paragraph formatting to format their document.

Why fix this?    Spaces, tabs and empty paragraphs might be perceived as blanks by people using screen readers. After hearing several “blanks,” people might think they have reached the end of the information.

How to fix this    Use formatting, indenting, and styles to create whitespace instead of repeating blank characters.

  1. Remove any existing whitespace around the paragraph.
  2. Select the text, right-click it, and then click Paragraph.
  3. Select values for Indentation and Spacing to create whitespace.

Headings don’t contain too much information

This rule makes sure that, where people have used heading styles in their document, they have used them on short runs of text (in English, runs of fewer than 20 words). This prevents the document structure from being muddled because long paragraphs formatted as a semantic style.

Why fix this?    Short, concise headings make it easier for people with disabilities to quickly navigate the document structure.

How to fix this    Use concise words or a short phrase in the heading to provide clues about information in the subsequent text. In general, headings should be, at most, one line long.

Avoid the use of floating objects

This rule makes sure that authors have used objects with wrap text set to Top and Bottom or In Line With Text.

Why fix this?    Objects not in line with text are difficult to navigate to and might be inaccessible to people with vision disabilities.

How to fix this    Change objects to inline and remove text wrapping

  1. Select the object, and then right-click it.
  2. Click Wrap Text, and then click In Line With Text or Top and Bottom.

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Tips

You see a tip when content that people with disabilities can understand, but that might be better organized or presented in a way that can improve their experience.

Rule Name Program Accessibility Checker checks:
Closed captions are included for inserted audio and video Excel, PowerPoint, Word
  • All audio and video objects in the document have closed captioning.
The reading order of a slide should be logical. PowerPoint
  • Slides appear to be in a logical order.
The slide titles in a deck should be unique PowerPoint
  • Each non-blank slide in a deck has a unique title.
Layout Tables are structured for easy navigation Word
  • The layout order should be logical for the language, and that the tab order is not circular.
No image watermarks are used Word
  • There are no watermarks used in the document.
All headings are in the correct order Word
  • All headings follow a logical order

ShowDetailed explanation of Tips rules

Closed captions are included for inserted audio and video

This rule makes sure that, where people have used audio or video, messaging has been conveyed in alternative formats. It’s a very basic rule that simply flags all A/V objects.

Why fix this?    Visual, speech, or audio media can communicate important information that might be unavailable to people with disabilities.

How to fix this    Convey important spoken and other non-text information by alternate methods, such as alternate text. Use a video with closed-captioned text, transcript, or audio description if you can.

The reading order of a slide should be logical.

This rule makes sure that, where authors have used objects that aren’t part of the slide template, the reading order of the slide content makes sense. It is a very basic rule that simply flags all slides with such objects.

Why fix this?    A person who can’t view the slide hears slide text, shapes, and content read back in a specific order. You should verify that the reading order and labels make sense in the order in which they are read back.

How to fix this    Check the order in which content will be read back.

  • Click Home > Arrange > Selection Pane.

The Selection Pane lists the objects on the slide. Objects are read back beginning with the bottom list item and ending with the top list item. Correct any out of order items using the Re-order arrows on the bottom of the pane.

The slide titles in a deck should be unique

This rule makes sure that authors have appropriately specified a unique title for each slide in their presentation. This helps to validate that the slide titles are meaningful and a useful way to relate presentation structure to the reader.

Why fix this?    Every slide should have a unique title so those who cannot view the slide can still easily navigate to information.

How to fix this    Update the text in the Title text box to uniquely describe the slide’s content.

If you can’t see the Title text box for the slide, click Home > Arrange > Selection Pane. Find the Title text in the list of objects in the pane. Click the eye icon next to the slide title text box to change its visibility.

Layout Tables are structured for easy navigation

This rule makes sure that where authors have used layout tables (tables with Table Normal style), the author should check the reading order of the table to be sure that it makes sense (for English, left to right, top to bottom). It is a very basic rule that simply flags all layout tables.

Why fix this?    Tables used for layout should present information in a meaningful order from the first cell to the last.

How to fix this    Verify the table reading order by tabbing through cells to be sure that the information is presented in an order that makes sense.

 Note    If the table is meant to show lists or structured data, apply a table style from the Table Styles gallery on the Table Tools Design tab.

No image watermarks are used

This rule ensures that authors haven’t used an image watermark on a Word document (to enhance readability and maximize clarity for people who are vision-impaired).

Why fix this?    Images used as watermarks might not be understood by people with vision or cognitive disabilities.

How to fix this    Important information shouldn’t be communicated using only an image watermark because this information can’t be made accessible. Make sure that any information included in a watermark is also included elsewhere in the document.

All headings are in the correct order

This rule ensures that authors have used headings without skipping a level (for example: using Heading 4 as a child of Heading 3).

Why fix this?    Using heading levels in logical order makes it easier for readers to find information and navigate the document.

How to fix this   

Change a heading style

  1. Select the heading text you want to change.
  2. On the Home tab, in the Styles group, choose the correct heading style.

Add a heading line

  1. Insert a line of text where you want the new heading.
  2. On the Home tab in the Styles group, choose the correct heading style.

To verify your document’s organization, click View > check the Navigation Pane box. To help longer documents maintain clear navigation, make sure you have at least one heading every two pages, or so, and that your headings are in the correct order (Heading 2 under Heading 1, etc.).

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Applies to:
Excel 2013, Office 365 Enterprise, Office 365 Enterprise admin, Office 365 Midsize Business, Office 365 Midsize Business admin, Office 365 operated by 21Vianet - Enterprise, Office 365 operated by 21Vianet - Enterprise admin, Office 365 operated by 21Vianet - Midsize Business, Office 365 operated by 21Vianet - Midsize Business admin, Office 365 operated by 21Vianet - Small Business, Office 365 operated by 21Vianet - Small Business admin, Office 365 Small Business, Office 365 Small Business admin, PowerPoint 2013, Word 2013, Excel 2010, PowerPoint 2010, Word 2010