Published: 7 July 2024

Document Series

It's a long time since I wrote blog posts on the subject of document accessibility, which is something that we should all know something about. In the workplace, I have noticed a significant shift in awareness around document accessibility but there is still a long way to go. Many people now know they should be making their documents accessible but just lack the skills and confidence to do it well.

So I thought now is the time to write a series of blog posts on different types of documents and give you three things that we can all do to make them more accessible. Here is a quick preview of what I hope to write about.

Microsoft Word

Word is used for lots of different tasks, e.g. letters, news articles, reports, policies, processes, and so much more. There is a misconception that Word documents are the most accessible of all the office formats. I see it all the time... people create a slide deck but then create an accessible version in Word. The reality is the Word version can be even less accessible than the original.

When thinking about Word accessibility, we will focus on these three things:

Microsoft Excel

Excel is a great application for working with data and other stuff that is easier to read in a table format. It's layout is very visual and helps us with tasks such as planning, forecasting, analysing and exploring information. Have you ever thought though, about how a blind person would experience an Excel spreadsheet? Anything that is by nature visual, could be potentially problematic for someone who can't see.

When thinking about Excel accessibility, we will focus on these three things:

Microsoft PowerPoint

PowerPoint is another great application for presenting information to support a presentation or for sharing slides during an online meeting. My biggest problem with PowerPoint is that it tends to be used for things it was never intended for. Often PowerPoint gets used when Word would be better. PowerPoint slides can be made in a way that is accessible and can be shared in online meetings in an accessible way.

When thinking about PowerPoint accessibility, we will focus on these three things:


If there's one thing that will get Accessibility Specialists arguing amongst themselves, it is PDFs. There seems to be a PDF accessibility spectrum. At one end are those who condemn all PDFs as completely inaccessible, the spawn of the devil, never to be used again. At the other end are a group of accessibility people, who bombard my LinkedIn messaging system with offers to make every PDF in my organisation 100% accessible. They offer compliance with every law known to man and don't understand why I don't bite their hands off. I'm somewhere in the middle. We live in a world that includes PDFs so it makes sense to ensure that they are accessible to as many people as possible.

When thinking about PDF accessibility, we will focus on these three things:


Outlook is mostly used for emails, so what could we possibly get wrong here? To be fair, most simple text emails should be okay, but there are plenty of times that emails are anything but simple. Then we can bring in the Outlook Calendar. This is another very handy tool, that enables us to invite people to meetings and events. How can we do that in an accessible way?

When thinking about Outlook accessibility, we will focus on these three things: