We recently supported several proposal efforts that required submitting Section 508-compliant documents. (Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 requires that U.S. Government information and data should be accessible to people with disabilities.)
Here are 10 quick tips for creating Section 508-compliant documents using MS Word.
- Use MS Word styles to define headings and normal text.
- Use built-in MS Word formats to create columns, bullets, lists, tables, headers, footers, and footnotes.
- Provide tags for all images using the alt text feature to describe each image using words.
- Provide a description of a chart or graphic immediately after that chart or graphic.
- Provide text descriptions or equivalents for any graphics or flowcharts.
- If color is used to convey information, the text must also convey that information.
- Use colors that people who are color blind can distinguish; most color-blind people have trouble distinguishing green and red or blue and yellow.
- Embed each page with descriptive information about the document in the header and footer.
- Always identify table information with a header row, and do not use merged or empty cells.
- Define the full URL for hyperlinks, and identify the hyperlinks using the hyperlink function found on the Insert tab.
After you finish formatting your document, MS Word enables you to check your documents for accessibility using the Check Accessibility option on the Review tab. MS Word provides additional information to help diagnose and resolve 508 compliance problems, and the government provides detailed information about making documents compliant on its Section 508 website: https://www.section508.gov/.
by Brenda Crist, MPA, CPP APMP Fellow