Create Accessible PDFs Directly from Microsoft® Office

CommonLook® Office GlobalAccess simplifies the creation of accessible PDF documents directly from Microsoft Word and PowerPoint sources. It’s the perfect companion tool for authors, who develop content using Microsoft Office.

Build Accessibility into Documents Early

This tool enables authors to design documents with accessibility in mind, saving time and effort later in the process. User simply input vital accessibility information, prior to producing the PDF file.

  • An add-in for Microsoft® Word and PowerPoint

  • Fast and intuitive – does not require prior knowledge of accessibility software or standards

  • Test and correct, accessibility issues in the source Microsoft Word or PowerPoint file

  • Ensures maximum accessibility in new PDFs, at the lowest possible cost


Create Accessible Documents Easily

CommonLook® Office is the most effective way to create standards-compliant PDFs directly out of Microsoft® Office source files. Users are guided through the process of making accessible PDF documents that accurately comply with the Section 508, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), WCAG 2.0 AA, and PDF U/A standards.

  • Easy-to-use for new staff, yet powerful enough for advanced users

  • Exceeds the native accessible PDF functionality of Microsoft Word and PowerPoint, or Adobe Acrobat

  • Quickly identifies and helps correct accessibility compliance issues, automating most tasks

  • Reduces compliance costs by lowering the expense of accessibility repairs to existing documents

  • CommonLook Office eliminates any excuses of time, deadlines, or complexity that have been used for not creating accessible PDF up to now.

    Peter Abrahams, Practice Leader Bloor Research

How it Works?

Follow these steps to create an accessible PDF from an original Microsoft® document:

  1. Launch CommonLook from Microsoft Word or PowerPoint
  2. Select the appropriate accessibility standard for compliance (e.g. WCAG 2.0, PDF/UA, HHS, or Section 508)
  3. Address each document checkpoint that is identified as having an accessibility issue
  4. Once all applicable checkpoints are complete, CommonLook Office generates an accessible PDF


  • Support for Microsoft Word and PowerPoint

  • Easy to learn and use, with step-by-step guidance through the checkpoints

  • Create documents that conform to leading standards: Section 508, HHS, WCAG 2.0 AA or PDF U/A

  • Upgraded user interface with improved checkpoints and all-new documentation

  • Content preparation checkpoints for most situations

  • Complete verification – detailed coverage of all conformance criteria for the chosen standard

  • Style mapping – manage style usage and mapping to PDF tags

  • Table formatting – manage simple, complex, and presentation tables

Frequently Asked Questions

Where can I find the latest documentation?

The CommonLook Office GlobalAccess Features and Overview pages are enhanced periodically based on user input.

Will CommonLook Office GlobalAccess change my DOC/DOCX or PPT/PPTX files in any way? Do I need to make a backup before using CommonLook Office GA?

CommonLook Office GlobalAccess modifies the document under the following circumstances in order to achieve more accessible Word and PowerPoint files:

  • Any Alternative text added to images is set to the corresponding Word or PowerPoint object.
  • The grouping (or ungrouping) of objects in CommonLook Office GA is committed to the Word or PowerPoint file.

NOTE: CommonLook Office GlobalAccess does NOT automatically save the document to disk but performs the above modifications in memory. When the document is closed, Word or PowerPoint offers to save the document.

Will CommonLook Office GlobalAccess make my Word or PowerPoint source file compliant?

As mentioned in the previous question, CommonLook Office GlobalAccess will make some accessibility changes to the source file, improving its accessibility. However, because there are limitations in MS Word and PowerPoint, these files can not always be made 100% compliant. This is, in fact, one more reason to create a PDF – because PDFs can be made compliant!

If I check the No Textual Description Required checkbox for an image, what (if anything) does CommonLook Office GlobalAccess do to my Word or PowerPoint file to record that choice?

CommonLook Office GlobalAccess stores this information in a custom data section of the file.

Does CommonLook Office GlobalAccess work with PowerPoint slide notes?

No. CommonLook Office GlobalAccess produces PDF documents from the PowerPoint slides alone.

Ready to learn more?