Accessibility Features

Accessibility Features in MS Office and Canvas

  • Use heading styles and use them appropriately. If you are creating an MS Word document, the first heading should use the "Heading 1" style. In Canvas, the highest heading style you can use is "Heading 2" because "Heading 1" is already used for the page title.
  • Use built-in lists. Don't create bulleted or numbered lists manually; click on the bullet list or numbered list icon.
  • Use appropriately-sized San Serif fonts. Use fonts like Arial, Helvetica, and Verdana instead of Serif fonts like Times New Roman. Keep font sizes to no less than 11pt (MSWord, Excel, Canvas) and 22pt (PowerPoint)
  • Set your document language. Screen readers use a document's language to determine how to pronounce words correctly. The path to set the language in MS Word is File>Properties>Custom. See tutorial from Microsoft for how to make changes in other MS Office tools.
  • Use built-in slide layouts in MS PowerPoint (and Google Slides) and avoid adding extra text boxes.
  • Use descriptive hyperlinks. When inserting links into text, avoid using "here" or "click here." For example, use UW Bothell instead of If you must offer the URL, remove the http:// and the www. from links. For long URLs, use tools like Bitly or TinyURL to create shorter links.
  • Avoid using color as only way to communicate information. If you want to use color, make sure you also use descriptive words or symbols (e.g., "Starred items in red are required").  
  • Check that there is enough color contrast in your content. Colour Contrast Analyser (CCA) is a free tool you can use to check contrast.
  • Use underline emphasis only for links.
  • Use tables for data rather than organization. Usually, lists and headers are sufficient to convey most information. If you must use a table to organization text (e.g., to build a weekly schedule or grading table), be sure they are properly formatted with a caption and headers. Avoid merging cells as much as possible. 
  • Run built-in Accessibility Checkers and fix errors.

    • MS Office has an accessibility checker within the Review tab of the ribbon.  For this process to work correct you will need to make sure: a) you are running the latest version of MS Office. Office 2019 is available for all faculty, staff and students and b) your documents are updated to the latest format (.docx, pptx, .xlsx) so they are not in compatibility mode.

    • Canvas has two checkers: the Accessibility Checker in the Rich Content Editor marked by the universal accessibility icon below the editing area which checks Canvas content directly and Ally accessibility tool which checks files that have been uploaded to a course.