Google Applications

Synopsis of Accessibility Guidelines

Note: Google Applications do not operate like web pages. They incorporate their own set of shortkeys, and screen reader support must be activated in order for screen reader users to access Google Apps effectively. More accessible environments like Microsoft Word and Excel should be favored over Google Docs and Spreadsheets.

Guidelines adapted from WebAIM's Web Accessibility Principles

Provide Appropriate Alt Text

For every non-text element, provide a text alternative (alt text) that provides an equivalent to the image content. Please refer to WebAIM's Alternative Text web page for more information.

  • Select the image. From the "Format" drop-down menu, select "Alt Text." Type your alt text in the box labeled "Description."
  • The description should present the content and function of an image.
  • If an image is a link (or hotspot), the alt text must describe the link’s function.
  • Avoid words like "picture of," "image of," or "link to."
  • Use the fewest number of words necessary.

Alt Text window in Google Docs.

Ensure that Content Is Clear and Navigable

  • Use a Table of Contents to allow users to skip to relevant content.
  • Organize your content using true headings and bulleted lists.
    • Rather than creating headings manually by underlining text or changing fonts to bold, use the styles drop-down menu to create true headings.
    • Rather than creating lists by typing numbers manually, use the numbered and bulleted list drop-down menus.
  • Do not use data tables. In order for a table to be accessible, you must identify all data table headers. This is something you cannot currently do in Google Docs.
  • Do not rely on color alone to convey meaning. Please refer to WebAIM's Visual Disabilities: Color Blindness for more information.
    • The use of color can enhance comprehension, but do not use color alone to convey information. Be especially cautious of red/green color combinations.
    • Make sure that color contrast is strong, especially between text and background.
  • Use the simplest language appropriate for your content.
  • Use empty (white) space to improve readability.
  • Use illustrations, icons, etc. to supplement text.
  • Check spelling, grammar, and readability.

Ensure Users can Complete and Submit all Forms

Please refer to WebAIM's Creating Accessible Forms: General Form Accessibility for more information.

  • Put form labels adjacent to or near their controls, so the labels are associated visually.
  • Clearly identify required form elements. Don't make a field required if it is not necessary. Ensure all directions and cues are readily accessible.
  • If there are errors in a form that has been submitted, alert the user in an accessible way (especially to a screen reader user) and make it easy to fix the incorrect information and resubmit the form.

Ensure Links Make Sense out of Context

  • Rather than using phrases like "Click here", "Here", "More", "More information", "Read more", and "Continue," name links for their destination. For example, "refer to the Forms and Surveys web page to learn more about creating and including accessible forms and surveys on your website."
  • URL's as link text should usually be avoided, unless the URL is relevant content. If a document or presentation will be distributed in print form, the URL should be included in parentheses following a descriptive link. This allows those accessing the print document the ability to input the URL in their address bar.

Ensure Users have Access to Screen Reader Support and User Guides