The 508 Compliance Resource Team Notes:
Always think of the audience. This is the first and foremost rule. Your audience might not be able to see the words on the screen, the pictures your document is referencing or the graphs that sum up your topic. In order to make a Microsoft word document 508 compliant, you need to address several areas: document layout, document formatting, images, tables and graphs. Multiple columns cause screen readers problems unless you direct the screen reader to which way the content flows.
Testing is critical. Anything that you claim is 508 compliant should be run through multiple screen readers. Apple uses Voice Over, PC's use JAWS, and mobile devices have their own web accessibility programs as well. If you do not have the capabilities to test your efforts then find a company that does 508 verification.
Outsourcing documents to 508 compliant experts can be a big time saver, but if you decide to tackle it yourself you may want to consider these tips:
Here are some other tips that can assist you in making your Microsoft Word document 508 compliant:
- You should be prepared to describe every picture in detail while making your Word Document 508 compliant. The best technique to do this is try to think of a description would make sense to a person who is not looking at the computer, and accurately convey the image.
- When dealing with graphs in your effort to make your Microsoft Word Document 508 compliant you should describe the information presented on the graph, as well as the intended result. If the graph has flow considerations, describe them.
- Literature citations and literature references in Microsoft Word can be tricky when dealing with 508 compliance. Literature Citations and literature references can take on many different forms and might be present on every page but the best practice in your 508 compliant undertaking might be to tag the literature citations as background artifacts and ignore the literature references until the end of the document as it can be cumbersome to the visually impaired listener using modern 508 compliant screen readers.