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Making Content Accessible in Google Docs

As a general rule, the Google Docs: Documents (“Documents”) format is not accessible to many people with certain disabilities. This includes the editing view, the view-only view, and to a degree, the Publish to Web view.

The best option for sharing this content with others is to copy and paste it into another application that can create online documents such as an HTML editor like Dreamweaver, or to download it to a Microsoft Word document.

With either option, the author may need to do further editing work in the target application to add accessibility information like alternative text for images and row and column headers for tables. This information can be added through tools like Microsoft Word’s built-in accessibility checker.

With the Publish to Web option, if the document contains only the following elements, it is basically accessible.
  • plain text with headings denoting each section
  • links
  • ordered or unordered lists, with only a single nesting level (no indented sub-lists)
  • only English text, and your audience’s default language in their assistive technology is English (Documents does not allow you to correctly set the language of the document)
If the document contains images, data tables, or lists with multiple levels, it cannot be made accessible through the Publish to Web option.

Accessibility Features

Documents does allow authors to assign headings to text to denote major sections of a document. These headings do carry over to most other applications such as Microsoft Word.

Notable Problems

There is no way from within Documents to add alternative text to images, headers to rows and columns for data tables, or to define the language of the document. Additionally, when publishing to the Web nested lists with more than a single level are coded incorrectly.

Spreadsheets

In general, when sharing this information with others the best option is to convert a Google Docs Spreadsheet to a Microsoft Excel document.

Presentations

It is fine to use Presentations for displaying content in a face-to-face classroom setting, such as through a projector.
If you want to share presentation files with others, in general, the best option is to convert the presentation into a Microsoft PowerPoint document.
The author will need to do further editing work in the target application to add accessibility information, such as alternative text for images. This information can be added through tools like Microsoft PowerPoint’s built-in accessibility checker.

Forms

Google Docs: Forms ("Forms") has numerous accessibility issues with it that will make it difficult for some users to accurately submit data and navigate the form in many cases. Instead of Google's Forms, there are other surveying tools on campus that are more accessible.

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