Take full advantage of accessibility in Office Documents

By Office Feature PM on October 7, 2019

Hi, I’m Peter Frem, a Senior Program Manager leading an effort across Office 365 to make it easier for you to create documents and communications that are accessible to everyone.

When you create a document, ensuring its accessibility is your responsibility. By creating accessible documents, you guarantee that they can be accessed, read, and used by more people. Simple things like using headings to easily navigate a long document, or using text contrast that’s easy to read in a variety of lighting conditions make a big difference. We’re excited to share a small update with big impact designed to help you ensure you have the right files to make your documents accessible.

Modern documents are all about empowerment and inclusion

The modern Office file format (Open XML Format) provides many advantages for users of Office 365, including industry-leading collaboration or engaging 3D content. The benefits also extend to accessibility scenarios, providing people with disabilities and everyone they work with robust capabilities to make their documents accessible.

In this update to the Accessibility Checker, we are introducing a simple flow to check and ensure you’re using the most accessible file type. If you are not, we’ll offer a quick way to help you ensure that your document is optimized and easily consumable by people with disabilities. For example:

  • In the Accessibility Checker pane, you’re encouraged to convert your document into a format that can take full advantage of Office 365’s accessibility capabilities.
Accessibility checker showing "convert" option for Office files in an older format.
Figure 1: Accessibility Checker for older Office documents .doc, .xls, .ppt
Accessibility checker showing "Save As" option for non-Office documents.
Figure 2: Accessibility Checker for non-Office documents .csv, .txt, etc.
  • In the status bar notification tray, you’re given a reminder that the Accessibility Checker is unavailable for the current document type.
Status bar notification for "accessibility: unavailable" when accessibility checker is unsupported for current document.
Figure 3: Status indicator for unavailable accessibility checker
  • In File > Info when reviewing file information, you are prompted to convert the document as it is currently in a reduced-functionality mode.
Highlighted "compatibility mode" in File - Info indicating that the document has reduced functionality.

As we continue to look for simple ways to get more documents to be accessible to more people, I hope you find this update useful and valuable. Please continue to share feedback so we can all work together to make documents accessible for everyone!

Additional references

Availability

Document type reminders are available to users running Insider build 1910 or later on Windows in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.

Feedback

If you have any feedback or suggestions, you can submit them using the Help Improve Office (🙂) button in the top right corner of Word, PowerPoint, or Excel, or use the Help > Feedback menu. We’re excited to hear from you!

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Posted in Excel, Feature Deep Dives, General, Insider Fast, Insider Slow, Office Insiders, PowerPoint, Windows Desktop, Word

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