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Required 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 Non-informative Image has Alternative Text There are images present which do not convey information, but have alternative text. This issue is a violation of 1194.22 (a) in Section 508. Remove alternative text, and set text-wrapping feature to "Behind Text". Any MS Office Accessibility Checker errors related to this issue should be ignored. Can be fixed in PDF For this item, ASPA/DCD uses  manual inspection. Use MS Office built in tools to view the alt text and compare it to the visual information gained from the image. No tools used.
All Alternative Text is Incorrect Information gained by a sighted user from viewing an image is not fully captured in the Alternative Text. This issue is a violation of 1194.22 (a) in Section 508. Replace Alternative Text with more appropriate, descriptive wording.  Can be fixed in PDF For this item, ASPA/DCD uses  manual inspection. Use MS Office built in tools to view the alt text and compare it to the visual information gained from the image. No tools used.
All Image is Missing Alternative Text An informative image lacks Alternative Text. This issue is a violation of 1194.22 (a) in Section 508. Add appropriate Alternative Text that is equivalent to the information conveyed by the image.  Can be fixed in PDF For this item, ASPA/DCD uses  manual inspection and an automated tool. Use MS Office Accessibility  Checker find out if Alternative Text is missing. Use built-in MS Office tools to confirm. No tools used.
All Related Objects are not Rendered as a Single Image Several objects are placed in proximity or overlaid to present  the appearance of one image, but are not a single image file. This issue is a violation of 1194.22 (a) in Section 508. Replace the objects with a single graphic from a third-party program (e.g., Photoshop, Snag-It, etc.). Can be fixed in PDF For this item, ASPA/DCD uses  manual inspection. Inspect each image to see if it is built from a series of objects. No tools used.
All Characters with no Reliable Mapping to Unicode are Present A character/glyph is used in the document that is not mapped to a reliable equivalent in Unicode. This issue is a violation of 1194.22 (a) in Section 508. Replace character with one that has a Unicode mapping or use an image with Alternative Text.    For this item, ASPA/DCD uses  manual inspection. No tools used.
All Color Contrast is Insufficient  Color contrast ratio between text and background is less than 4.5:1.  This issue is a violation of 1194.31 (b) in Section 508. Change color scheme by lightening or darkening one or both of the colors. For further assistance, see this link     For this item, ASPA/DCD uses  manual inspection and an automated tool. Inspect the document for any hard to see text. Use the color contrast analyser to measure the contrast ratio. No tools used.
All Information is Conveyed by Color Alone Information is being conveyed through color only and does not include a non-color method. This issue is a violation of 1194.22 (c) in Section 508.  Ensure that all information conveyed with color is also available without color, for example, describing differences with text.   For this item, ASPA/DCD uses  manual inspection. Inspect the document to see if there is any information being conveyed by color only. Print on black and white paper if unsure. No tools used.
Word & PPT Programmatic Reading Order does not Match Logical Visual Reading Order The intended reading order of the document is not reflected in programmatic view. This issue is a violation of 1194.22 (d) in Section 508. Modify the programmatic structure to match the visual reading order. Can be fixed in PDF For this item, ASPA/DCD uses  manual inspectionand an automated tool. Run the Accessibility Checker and manually check any items flagged.  MS Office Accessibility Checker.
Word & PPT List Structure is not Properly Styled A visual list appears in the document however it was not styled using the built in MS Office features. This issue is a violation of 1194.22 (d) in Section 508. Rebuild the visual list using the built in styles available in MS Office. Can be fixed in PDF For this item, ASPA/DCD uses  manual inspection. Inspect the document for visual lists. For each visual list, click the number or bullet of the first item. Verify remaining item numbers/bullets are highlighted. No tools used.
Word Table of Contents is Created Incorrectly The table-of-contents entries do not properly link to the headings in the document. This issue is a violation of 1194.22 (a) in Section 508. Table of contents items need to be created with built-in MS Office tools.   For this item, ASPA/DCD uses  manual inspection. Inspect the table of contents to see if it was styled using the built in TOC feature under References. No tools used.
All Links are Broken There is at least one link in the document which is not functional or brings up a page not found error. This issue is a violation of 1194.22 (d) in Section 508. Fix the URL of the broken link. Alternatively, the link can be removed.   For this item, ASPA/DCD uses  manual inspection. Click each link and verify the correct URL is displayed. No tools used.
Word Footnotes are Created Incorrectly There are footnotes in the document that were not created using the built in MS Office features. This issue is a violation of 1194.22 (d) in Section 508.
 
Recreate the footnotes with the built in tools in MS Office. Alternatively, footnotes can be removed and the information can be placed within the body. Can be fixed in PDF For this item, ASPA/DCD uses  manual inspection. Inspect the document to see if footnotes are present. Inspect the footnotes to make sure they were created using built in features. No tools used.
Word & PPT Heading Styles are Missing                         Text has been altered to visually look like a heading (e.g., larger font size or bolding), but the text has not been styled as a heading through the designation of heading level. This issue is a violation of HHS Guidelines. Use built in heading styles in MS Office to style text that was visually altered to act as a heading. Can be fixed in PDF For this item, ASPA/DCD uses  manual inspection. Inspect the document for visually altered text that acts as a heading. Highlight the text and verify it is styled using one oh the Heading styles. No tools used.
Word & PPT Headings are not Properly Structured or Ordered Heading tags have been implemented but the hierarchical order is either incorrect or nonsequential, meaning there are either multiple H1s or heading levels are skipped.  This issue is a violation of 1194.22 (d) in Section 508. Review and adjust  the heading structure  to ensure there is only one Heading 1 style (which should be the title of the document) and that all other headings are in sequential order. Note: If the title is repeated, as sometimes happens on the top of a subsequent page, it is okay for the document to then have multiple Heading 1 styles.   Can be fixed in PDF For this item, ASPA/DCD uses  manual inspection. Inspect the document to see the structures of visual headings. Inspect the heading styles used and verify the headings progress in a logical hierarchy.  No tools used.
Word Document Contains an Image of Text Portions of the document are images of text, rather than actual text. This issue is a violation of 1194.22 (d) in Section 508. Recreate the document  so that it does not contain images of text. Infographics with fully descriptive alternative text are acceptable. Can be fixed in PDF For this item, ASPA/DCD uses  manual inspection. Inspect the main body of the document to see if the text is actually a single image. No tools used.
All Comments, Annotations, or Tracked Changes are Present The document contains collaborative markup that should be removed before public distribution.  This issue is a violation of 1194.22 (d) in Section 508. Remove comments and annotations. Accept or reject any tracked changes.    For this item, ASPA/DCD uses  manual inspection. Open the review tab and select next for both comment and track changes to see if there is any markup present. No tools used.
Word & PPT Tabular Data Lacks Table Structure There is tabular data in the document that has been created with spacing rather then the built in data table structures. This is inaccessible to users of Assistive Technology because the relationships between intended headers and data is lost.  This issue is a violation of 1194.22 (g) in Section 508. Recreate the content using built in Table tools. Can be fixed in PDF For this item, ASPA/DCD uses  manual inspection. Inspect the document for tabular data and verify that it is contained in an MS Office table structure. No tools used.
Word Header Row not Repeated Across Pages A data table spans more than one page but the header row is not repeated.  This issue is a violation of 1194.22 (g) in Section 508. Ensure "Repeat Header Rows" is enabled.   For this item, ASPA/DCD uses  manual inspection. Inspect the document for data tables that span pages. Make sure the header rows are repeated on each spanned page.  No tools used.
Word Data Cells Split Across Pages A data table cell spans more than one page.  This issue is a violation of 1194.22 (g) in Section 508. Ensure "Allow row to split across pages" is Unchecked.    For this item, ASPA/DCD uses  manual inspection. Inspect the document for data tables that span pages. Make sure that rows are not split (start on one page, end on another) No tools used.
Word & PPT Tables Used for Layout Purposes A table structure has been used for the positioning of non data table elements.  This issue is a violation of 1194.22 (g) in Section 508. Remove all content from the Table structure which is not strictly part of a data table and delete the Table structure. Can be fixed in PDF For this item, ASPA/DCD uses  manual inspection. Inspect the document to see if any content was positioned using table structures. No tools used.
All Complex Table Exists There is a complex table in the document. MS Office does not have the ability to properly present complex tables.  This issue is a violation of 1194.22 (h) in Section 508. Reformat the table into a series of simple tables. Allowed if converted to PDF For this item, ASPA/DCD uses  manual inspection. Inspect the document to see if there are any complex tables. No tools used.
All Data Tables Contain Merged or Split Cells There are merged or split cells contained in a data table which is unable to be correctly interpreted by Assistive Technology. This issue is a violation of 1194.22 (h) in Section 508. Reformat the table so that there are no merged or split cells. Allowed if converted to PDF For this item, ASPA/DCD uses  manual inspection. Inspect the document for data tables and see if there are any merged cells. No tools used.
All Title Contained in the Data Table Making it Complex The title of a table is contained in the table structure automatically making it  complex. This issue is a violation of 1194.22 (h) in Section 508. Remove the title from the table and style it as heading or caption. Can be fixed in PDF For this item, ASPA/DCD uses  manual inspection. Inspect the document for data tables. Highlight the table and see if the title is contained in the structure. No tools used.
All Flickering Frequency is Outside the Permitted Ranges A flickering element is contained in the document. This issue is a violation of 1194.22 (j) in Section 508. Change flicker rate to less than 2 HZ or greater than 55Hz, or remove flickering element.    For this item, ASPA/DCD uses  manual inspection. Inspect the document for blinking/flashing content that is doing so at a rate of more than twice per second. No tools used.
Word & PPT Organizational  Charts Require Text Only Version An organizational chart (or similar structure) does not contain a text only alternative. This issue is a violation of 1194.22 (k) in Section 508. Add text version of complicated structure. (Provide an  equivalent alternative text).   For this item, ASPA/DCD uses  manual inspection. Inspect the document for organizational charts. Verify there is a text only version in the document, or linked. No tools used.
All Missing Required Plugin to View Multimedia (Other than the currently viewed document) A link goes directly to content for which a plug in is required other than the active MS Office product. This issue is a violation of 1194.22 (m) in Section 508. Add URL of location to obtain plug-in. See this link   For this item, ASPA/DCD uses  manual inspection. Inspect the document for links to content which require additional software. No tools used.
All Form Fields are Present There is a form present in the document. Forms are not accessible to all Assistive Technology in MS Office. This issue is a violation of 1194.22 (n) in Section 508. Remove the form fields from the document. Allowed if converted to PDF For this item, ASPA/DCD uses  manual inspection. Inspect the document to see if it contains any form fields. No tools used.
All Document Properties are Missing The Title, Subject, Author have not all been filled out.  This issue is a violation of HHS Guidelines.  Fill in all document properties. Provide Title, Author, Subject in the Document Properties.   Can be fixed in PDF For this item, ASPA/DCD uses  manual inspection. Inspect the document properties to see if they were properly filled. No tools used.
All Language not Set for Foreign Words or Phrases The document contains text in a language different from the main document language, and it has not been set in the properties. This issue is a violation of HHS Guidelines and success criterion 3.1.2 in WCAG 2.0. Set the language of the section which contains foreign text. In MS Word 2010, Open Review Tab > Language Group > Language Button > Set Proofing Language Can be fixed in PDF For this item, ASPA/DCD uses  manual inspection. Open Review Tab > Language Group > Language Button > Set Proofing Language. Check that the highlighted language matches the actual language of the section. No tools used.
All Blank Cells in Data Table are Used for Formatting The document contains tables which use rows or columns of blank cells for formatting purposes, rather than MS Office built-in tools. Remove blank cells and use MS Office built-in tools to create desired format (e.g. borders, and other cell styles).   For this item, ASPA/DCD uses  manual inspection. Inspect tables and observe if any rows or columns are completely empty. No tools used.
All Informational Content in Header/Footer does not Appear in Document Body There is informational content contained in the header or footer of the document, but it does not appear at least once in the main body of the document.  This issue is a violation of HHS Guidelines.  For all informational content in the header/footer, place at least one instance in the main body of the document. Can be fixed in PDF For this item, ASPA/DCD uses  manual inspection. Inspect the header and footer of the document for any informational content. If found, verify the content appears at least once in the main body. No tools used.
Word Informational Element is not Inline There is an informational element in the document for which text wrapping was not set to "inline with text". This issue is a violation of HHS Guidelines.  Make sure all informational elements are inline. Can be fixed in PDF For this item, ASPA/DCD uses  manual inspection No tools used.
PPT Speaker Notes are contained in the PPT The PPT contains speaker notes which are not accessible to all Assistive Technology.  This issue is a violation of HHS Guidelines. Either delete the speaker notes or incorporate them within the slides. Allowed if converted to PDF as "handouts". For this item, ASPA/DCD uses  manual inspection. Inspect the speaker notes tab to see if any notes are present. No tools used.
PPT Informational Content is not Available in Outline View There is content on the slide that is not reflected in the outline view.  This issue is a violation of HHS Guidelines.  Recreate the slide so that all textual content is contained in the outline view Can be fixed in PDF For this item, ASPA/DCD uses  manual inspection. Open the outline view and compare the content in the outline view to the slide content. No tools used.
PPT Smart Art is Present The document contains vendor-specific "Smart Art" which is not accessible to Assistive Technology. Recreate as an image by taking a screenshot or using a third-party application and add appropriate alternative text.     For this item, ASPA/DCD uses  manual inspection No tools used.
All Background Images/Watermarks are Present The document contains a background image or watermark that is both informational and not contained anywhere in the main body of the document. This issue is a violation of HHS Guidelines.  Remove all background images and watermarks. If the information is necessary, place directly in the document.   For this item, ASPA/DCD uses  manual inspection. Inspect the document for any background images or watermarks. No tools used.
All Embedded Objects are Present The document contains objects such as other MS Office documents, or multi-media content. Add the content from the embedded file to the main body of the current document. Alternatively, a text link can be added that points to a posted version of the embedded object.
For further assistance, see this link  
  For this item, ASPA/DCD uses  manual inspection. Inspect the document for any embedded objects or files. No tools used.

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