Accessible MS Word Documents


  • Uses Styles rather than ‘tags’
  • Relies on simplified layout
  • Editable without losing accessibility
  • Simple tables and graphs only
  • Alternate text of up to 160 characters recognised


  • Natively accessible when tools are utilised correctly
  • Allows for changes to be made without necessarily impacting accessibility
  • Clients can change content to meet their visual needs
  • Can anchor links and bookmarks to specific words rather than page views.

What is an Accessible Word Document and how is it different to any other document?

You’ll notice the heading is accessible word and not ‘tagged word’. This is because, unlike a PDF document, word documents do not have ‘tags’. Instead, they use the style sheet and physical layout of the document to guide a reader through and derive meaning.

This is one of the reasons that accessible word documents have more limitations than PDFs, they must conform to the existing structures and styles of a generic word document. Complex tables, extensive alternate text, stylistic image placement… all of these things are unable to be utilised in the accessible word format.

As a result of these things, the accessible word document will generally look a little different to the non-accessible version. While we try to keep the end product as close to the original as possible, any complex areas will need to be re-created or significantly altered to meet the WCAG 2.0 AA standards.

The most significant additions and alterations occur when producing elongated alt text (which becomes part of the document) and complex tables (which need to be broken into simple tables). Colours, image placement and correct spacing round out the most common visual changes for an accessible word.

Contact us today and find out how we can make your documents accessible.

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