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Encouraged Fixes for Office Files

ASPA-DCD classifies accessibility errors into three categories as shown below:

  • Required Fixes (RFs): violations that must be corrected and have direct mappings to either Section 508 or HHS accessibility guidelines.
  • Strongly Encouraged Fixes (SEFs): issues that are violations of WCAG 2.0 and will be elevated to Required Fixes once the 508 Refresh goes into effect; they should be proactively fixed now.
  • Encouraged Fixes (EFs): issues that should be corrected in order to meet best-practice accessibility standards but are not required for conformance with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act or HHS accessibility guidelines.

Should you have questions or recommendations for revisions to the below list, please contact ASPA-DCD at http://wcdapps.hhs.gov/AccessibilityAssistance/. We welcome any and all feedback about these common-issues lists.
 

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Office File Issue Title Issue Description Remediation Suggestion Allowed/Can be fixed in PDF Testing Overview List of Tools
All Document has Lengthy Alternative Text A complex image has alt text >120 (or so) characters. Place complete description of the image or a link to a text only version within the body of the document. Revise Alternative Text to include the "take home message" and to refer to the location of this description.    For this item, ASPA/DCD uses manual inspection. For complex images inspect the surrounding text to see if a description or link to a text only description exists. No tools used.
All Verbose or Redundant Alternative Text is Present Alternative text contains unnecessary over-explanation or fails Usability recommendations such as phrases like 'Image of'. Remove unnecessary words from Alternative Text. Can be fixed in PDF For this item, ASPA/DCD uses manual inspection. Inspect all images to see if there is verbose alt text. No tools used.
All Device-specific Directions are Given In instructional documents, instructions specific to a particular device such as "click" or "hover" are given. Use device independent navigation such as select, navigate, and activate.   For this item, ASPA/DCD uses manual inspection. Inspect the document to see if any device specific instructions are being used. No tools used.
PPT PowerPoints Lack Unique and Meaningful Slide Titles Page (slide) titles are missing or are something generic such as "slide 1", etc. Provide meaningful titles for all slides.   For this item, ASPA/DCD uses manual inspection. Inspect each slide title and compare it to the content of the slide. No tools used.
Excel Worksheets Lack Unique and Meaningful Sheet Names The names of the worksheets in the Excel document are generic and do not reflect the purpose of the content of the worksheet.  Rename the worksheets to reflect the content.   For this item, ASPA/DCD uses manual inspection. Inspect the names of the worksheets and compare them to the content. No tools used.
All Blank Data Cells are Present Some cells in a data table contain no data. Add some text indicating the cell is intentionally blank. (e.g. "N/A", "No data" or a hyphen).   For this item, ASPA/DCD uses manual inspection.  Inspect the document for blank data cells.  
PPT Tables are Used in a PowerPoint One or more tables are present in a PowerPoint presentation. Convert table to an image (and provide detailed alternative text), list, or provide a link to an accessible HTML version.    For this item, ASPA/DCD uses manual inspection. Inspect slides for tables.  
Word & PPT Signatures are Present The document contains an actual signature.  Replace signature with the S-signature to avoid identity theft. For further assistance see this link   For this item, ASPA/DCD uses manual inspection. Inspect the document for actual signatures. No tools used.
All File Lacks Unique and Meaningful  Name The file name does not identify the document without requiring users to open and read or interpret page content, allowing them to find content, orient themselves within it and identify whether the information contained within the document is relevant to their needs. Rename the file to use a name that identifies the document or its purpose.     For this item, ASPA/DCD uses manual inspection. Inspect the filename for relation to the content.  No tools used.
All A Nonstandard Font is Used A font is used that may not be present on some users' devices. Choose a web-standard font. For further assistance, see this link   For this item, ASPA/DCD uses manual inspection. Inspect the document for unusual fonts. In MS Word, the Style Inspector may be used.  No tools used.
Excel Content is not Appropriate for MS Excel The content in the Excel document does not contain any computational formulas. As such, there is no need to have it in an Excel document. A different delivery format should be used. This issue is a violation of OMB Policies. Select a different delivery format for the content such as a PDF or HTML.   For this item, ASPA/DCD uses manual inspection. Inspect the document for any computational formulas. No tools used.
Excel Excel Table Lacks a Title Tables in the Excel spreadsheet lack proper titles. This issue is a violation of HHS Guidelines.  Add a descriptive title for the table in the first row of the worksheet, or change the Sheet title. Ensure the title given is unique and meaningful. For further assistance, see this link .   For this item, ASPA/DCD uses manual inspection. Inspect the first row of the spreadsheet for a table title. No tools used.
All Document Would be Better in HTML or as an Accessible PDF The document has certain elements such as heading and list structures where the accessibility would be greatly enhanced in an alternate format.  Convert the document into HTML or a fully compliant PDF which has tagging features to make all of the elements compliant.    For this item, ASPA/DCD uses manual inspection. All office files are encouraged to be converted to HTML or PDF. No tools used.
Word & PPT Line or Page Numbering was Manually Created Line or page numbering was manually created rather than using the built in automatic numbering tools available in MS Office.  Use built in features for automatic numbering.   For this item, ASPA/DCD uses manual inspection. Inspect the page numbers to see if they were manually created. No tools used.
  Generic Link Text is Present Generic link text such as ‘Click Here’, ‘Read More’, etc. is used, and there are clues to link destination or funciton in the text immediately surrounding the link. Modify generic link text such as ‘Click Here’, ‘Read More’, etc. to a value so a user can understand the destination out of context .   For this item, ASPA-DCD uses manual inspection. Page content is scanned and generic link text identified. Surrounding text is evaluated to see if proper context for the link is given. No tools used.
Word Line or Page Numbering was Manually Created Line or page numbering was manually created rather than using the built-in automatic numbering tools available in MS Office.  Use built-in features for automatic numbering.   For this item, ASPA-DCD uses manual inspection. Inspect the page numbers to see if they were manually created. No tools used.

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Content created by Digital Communications Division (DCD)
Content last reviewed on September 1, 2015