Adding Descriptive Captions to Charts and Graphs in Microsoft Word |Section 508 for Word

Welcome to another post in our series focusing on enhancing Word accessibility to ensure compliance with Section 508. Today, we explore how to effectively use captions to describe charts and graphs to ensure Word accessibility.

Video Guide

Word Accessibility and Section 508 Compliance

Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act requires that federal agencies’ electronic and information technology is accessible to people with disabilities. This includes documents created in Microsoft Word. Charts and graphs in these documents must have descriptive text, which can be achieved through the use of captions.

Enhancing Word Accessibility with Descriptive Captions

In our example, we’ll be working with a chart-based graphic. Here’s a simple guide to adding descriptive captions to ensure Word accessibility:

  • Right-Click and Insert Caption: First, right-click on your chart or graph and select ‘Insert Caption’. This option allows you to add a caption directly associated with the visual element.
  • Customize Your Caption: By default, Word might label your image as “Figure 1” or similar. You can customize this label and its position. For our example, we’ll place the caption above the chart.
  • Descriptive Captioning: Write a caption that concisely describes the chart or graph. For instance, “WWE’s Highest Paid Wrestlers”. This step is crucial for understanding the content of the image for those who cannot see it.
  • Detailing in Caption: Add detailed information about the chart in the caption. In our example, this includes data like “John Cena at 10 million, Brock Lesnar at 6.5 million…” and so on. This detailed description is vital for conveying the same information that the visual element provides.
Adding a descriptive caption to a chart in MS word for section 508 compliance
  • Marking the Graphic: If the caption fully describes the chart or graph, you can mark the actual graphic as decorative. This step tells screen readers that the image itself doesn’t contain additional information beyond what is already described in the caption.
  • Caption as a Heading: Consider formatting your caption as a heading (like Heading 3) depending on your document’s structure. This enhances visibility and organization, making it easier for screen reader users to navigate through the document.
Marking accessible captions as heading level 3 in MS Word
MS word guides, videos, and instruction links

Benefits of Descriptive Captions

By adding descriptive captions, we ensure that the information is accessible to Microsoft Word users who rely on screen readers or other assistive technologies. This practice not only complies with Section 508 but also enhances the overall user experience by making content more inclusive.

Ensuring your Word documents are Section 508 compliant is not just about adhering to regulations; it’s about making your content accessible to everyone. Using captions for charts and graphs is a straightforward yet effective way to achieve this. Remember, accessibility benefits all users, not just those with disabilities.

I can be your accessibility expert. For more detailed insights, tutorials, and in-depth discussions on accessibility and related topics, don’t forget to check out my YouTube channel: The Accessibility Guy on YouTube. Subscribe for regular updates!

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