Accessible MS Office Documents

Excel Spreadsheets


  • Sets context for non-visual users
  • Relies on simplified layout
  • Editable without losing accessibility
  • Simple tables and graphs only
  • Live text used as alternate text


  • 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.

Powerpoint Presentations


  • Provides reading order for content
  • Gives access to notes and descriptions
  • Gives additional information for non-visual users


  • Allows for changes within the existing format without necessarily impacting accessibility
  • Clients can change content to meet their visual needs

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

You’ll notice the heading is accessible office documents and not ‘tagged office documents’. This is because, unlike a PDF document, MS Office documents do not have ‘tags’.However unlike Microsoft Word documents, they also do not have a specific style sheet to assign all of their content to. Instead they rely on specific document structures and navigation to keep content in a logical sequence to be interpreted by screen readers or users with specific requirements.This is one of the reasons that accessible MS office documents have their own page and more limitations than either Word documents or PDFs, they must conform to the existing structures of their given format and don't have the ability to deviate from these.

Generally these documents have a very specific purpose, such as displaying large amounts of data or providing notes or evidence from a presentation. It is recommended that any complex information is presented in PDF format and simple content be converted to either a MS Word or PDF document.

While it is possible for these documents to adhere to the WCAG 2.0 AA standards, there are no specific criteria for these formats and all information is adapted from the Web and PDF sections of the Guidelines.

Contact us today for any questions and to find out how we can make your documents accessible.

Contact Us