Create Accessible Google Docs

These are steps to use the Grackle Accessibility Checker to create accessible documents in the Google Workspace. Grackle is a third-party service that scans your Google Docs/Slides/Sheets for accessibility issues and guides you through the remediation process.

The Grackle Accessibility Checker is are currently available for users with google accounts with g.harvard.edu or fas.harvard.edu email addresses.

For users without access to Grackle, the steps below may still be used to create an accessible document. The only difference is you will not be able to use the automated check feature. For any questions, contact digitalaccessibility@harvard.edu.

1. Use an Accessibility Checker

Use automated accessibility checkers to help you spot and fix accessibility errors while you work.

While automated checkers won’t catch every issue, they are a great tool to have in your tool set and are a good reminder that we should be thinking about accessibility when creating or editing content.

2. Add File Metadata

Add Metadata for your file to clearly identify it to your audience. Give the file a clear title and file name. Identify the language of the document.

HOW TO ADD METADATA

In your program, modify the displayed file name and navigate to File settings to change the language.

3. Add a Heading Structure

Provide an outline of your document that provides better navigation, thereby improving accessibility.Typically, recommend using only one Heading 1 in your document, but you can use multiple Heading 2, Heading 3. Keep things hierarchical: Don't skip heading levels. Don't go from a Heading 1 to a Heading 5. Read more about identifying headings, lists, and tables.

HOW TO ADD HEADINGS

Use the Styles menu option to apply heading levels to section text in your document

4. Format Text for Legibility

Format your text so that it is easier for your audience to read. Consider using a sans serif font, setting line spacing to 1.5. Keep text left-aligned when possible to allow users to easily identify new lines. Keep font at a standard size or larger. For documents, that is 11pt and for slide presentations 18pt.

5. Break Content into Lists, Where Possible

Browse your document to see if any paragraphs would be easier to read as a list.Lists make content easier to read by providing visual structure and highlighting key points.

HOW TO ADD A LIST

Use the Pargraph Panel to select a bullet or numbered list.

6. Write Descriptive Links

Write link text so that it is unique, descriptive, and clear about where the link goes. If sharing documents for printing, consider including both a descriptive link and the full link text. Find additional guidance: How to Write Helpful Links.

HOW TO EDIT LINK TEXT

Select and highlight the text you would like to link. Right click and chose edit link text.

7. Add Alt Text to Images

Add alternative text for all non-decorative images to convey the equivalent information to someone who may not be able to see the image. Keep it short and descriptive, like a tweet. Don’t include “image of” or “photo of”. For some examples, visit our page on alt text.

HOW TO ADD ALT TEXT

In most programs, right-click on image to bring up a menu with the options "Add Alt Text" or "Edit Image."

8. Use High Color Contrast

Choose a color for your text and other elements that has a high degree of contrast against the background color. For web content, the standard is 4.5:1 for most text. Avoid light text on light backgrounds and dark text on dark backgrounds.

HOW TO CHECK COLOR CONTRAST

Some of the automated accessiblity checkers will alert you to color errors as you work. To test on your own, try downloading a desktop tool, such as the TPGi's Color Contrast Analyser.

9. Avoid Using Color Alone to Convey Meaning

Avoid using color alone to convey meaning, as your message may be missed or misunderstood by individuals who can't see color. Instead use color along with a secondary element, (such as shape or text differences) to ensure the meaning can be understood without the use of color alone.

OFFICE HOURS

Want to check your accessible document with DAS? Stop by one of our upcoming Office Hours! We hold open office hours in a Zoom meeting room on the 2nd and 4th Fridays of each month from 10am-12pm. Upcoming DAS Office Hours ➜