Accessible Documents with Headings in MS Word

Don’t want to read?

Written By Cody Laplante

Cody M. Laplante is a certified Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments located in the capital region of the United States. With a Master’s Degree and Graduate Certificate in Assistive Technology, Cody founded eye.t to provide live and asynchronous training options to children, adults, professionals and parents to ensure that all people with visual impairments can have access to a computer.

Post Categories

Published on

December 1, 2021

This week, we are doing something a little different. Instead of teaching you how to access something using a screen reader, this week we will be focused on creating documents that will make navigating with a screen reader easier. We’ve written this week’s topic not only for you all (vision professionals) but also to be shared to others that may have questions about how to make their content accessible. These could be your learners’ teachers, employers, or anyone creating documents that do not already incorporate accessibility features such as headings.
What are Headings and Why are they important?
Let’s start with a little FAQ.
Q: What are headings?
A: Put simply, headings are titles and section titles on a computer. You can find headings on the internet, or word documents.

Q: Why are headings important for screen reader users?
A: Screen reader users use keyboard commands to navigate through documents and websites. One of those commands that is available to screen reader users is to jump from heading to heading. Imagine how much easier that would be on a long document. Without headings, the only option to jump quickly through a document is to navigate through each paragraph. In a document with headings, jumping to a section makes it so much faster for a screen reader user to find what they are looking for.
How do I create headings in my Microsoft Word document?
It is so easy. I promise. We’ll first teach you how to do this process with the mouse and then with key commands.

Adding Headings Using the Mouse
Place your cursor on the line that you’d like to make a heading. You do not have to select. Just place your cursor anywhere on the line.
In the “Home” Tab of the ribbon, click “Styles” then Heading 1, Heading 2, or Heading 3 etc.
If you’d like to keep the formatting the same, instead of clicking on Heading 1, 2, or 3, right click on the one you’d like and then click on “Update Heading to Match”.

But wait a minute, should I pick Heading 1, Heading 2, or Heading 3???
Heading Levels
Well, as you can see there are different “levels” of heading.

Heading 1 is the title of the entire document. There should only be one heading at level 1. This allows screen reader users an option to jump right to the top of the page.
Heading 2 is a “section title”. This allows screen reader users to jump through the different sections of your document.
Heading 3 is the title of a section inside a section.
Heading 4 is the title of a section inside a section inside a section.

I think you get the point here.

Your Document may look something like this:
Heading 1
Heading 2
Heading 3
Heading 3
Heading 2
Heading 3
Heading 4
Heading 3
Heading 3
Heading 2

Now go ahead and make those headings on your document. By the second or third time you do this process, it will become second nature, and any screen reader users reading your document, their lives will be made so much easier.

take a look at some

Related Articles

Adjusting the Braille Settings in JAWS

Adjusting the Braille Settings in JAWS

Ok, so you’ve connected your braille display to JAWS, but now, you look at the braille and …..... oh no! It contracted? I can’t read contracted braille! What am I supposed to do? It’s totally fine, today, I’m going to show you how to access the braille settings in...

When to Use Braille

When to Use Braille

You may have been hearing a lot about the Monarch from APH, Humanware and the NFB. IF you haven’t you really should check it out! If you are a TVI this device will be the one that changes how we teach.  But, even if you haven’t, you can see that the way we teach...

An Introduction to Computer Braille

An Introduction to Computer Braille

So you have a brand new braille display, you are using it with JAWS or NVDA and you come to a password field. JAWS says “computer braille is required”... Oh man. What do you do now? You may have heard of computer braille but does that mean you are ready to type out...

Get Posts Delieved Directly to Your Email