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Writing Accessible Google Doc, Word Docx and Email

If you are using emails (including mailing lists) or documents (eg. Word docx, Google Docs, etc) to disseminate instructions and guidance, keeping in mind these easy tips to will make your document more accessible.

Why?

  • People who are unable to view the images or charts.  They might have a visual impairment, or are using a small screen, or a low-bandwidth connection which won't load images.
  • People who are colour-blind.

Do:

  • Describe images which provide information.  This includes key takeaways you want your readers to learn from from charts and graphs.  It also includes images with text such infographics and flyers.
  • Use built-in styles for headings and lists.  Do NOT type your own bullets and numbers.    Font styles such as bold, underline and large font sizes are NOT communicated to your audience when they use assistive technologies.  These styling functions are usually available on a style ribbon at the top of your editor.
    An example of a styling toolbar in Google Docs highlighting text styles and list styles.
  • Use simple tables, and only when necessary.  Avoid using tables for page layout as your content might shift around on smaller screens.  You'll have better control over the display flow of your content by keeping them in a linear, top-down order.  When you do use tables to structure data, remember to label the column and row headings, as assistive technologies use these headings to help your audience understand the context of each cell.
  • Use more than just colours.  If you are using colours indicate differences such as correct vs wrong, include additional information such as text, patterns or icons.
  • Bonus: Use descriptive link text, rather than "click here".  Descriptive link text help your readers quickly comprehend where the links will go, rather than having to scan back into the regular text for the purpose of those links.
Last modified: 
April 2, 2020