Columns in Word 1

There are often several different ways of achieving layouts in Word. Some of these work well with assistive software, whereas some don't work at all. This relates to success criterion 1.3.2 Meaningful sequence, which states:

When the sequence in which content is presented affects its meaning, a correct reading sequence can be programmatically determined.

In Word, the meaningful sequence will be fine as long as everything is kept inline. As we have already learned, images need alt text but they also need to be inline, so that a screen reader knows they are there and where they belong in the reading sequence.

Text boxes behave a bit like an image. In theory, they can be read by a screen reader if they are inline with text but they need alt text. The alt text would be a copy of the text in the text box. Alt text is not as easy to navigate with a screen reader, so should never be used for normal text. The user cannot explore it, word by word or character by character, in the same way as they can with normal text.

From an accessibility perpective, text boxes are best avoided completely. If you want to create a column effect, the following video will show you how.