Getting Started with Document Accessibility

September 12, 2018
Photo: Blind person using a Braille display

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Inaccessible documents can be a major accessibility barrier for assistive technology users. Common accessibility problems for documents include:

  • Scanned documents that contain no data for assistive technology devices
  • Untagged PDF documents that lack structure to be interpreted properly by assistive technology
  • Documents with images missing alternate text descriptions

Learn more about common document accessibility errors and applicable standards

To ensure that documents are accessible for people with disabilities, it’s important to test and verify document accessibility. Here are some steps to address document accessibility in your organization:

  1. Take an inventory of electronic documents on your website – be sure to note the types of documents, and locate source documents (if available).
  2. Remove documents that are no longer needed – the easiest way to address accessibility errors is to remove documents that are no longer needed.
  3. Use the built-in accessibility checkers in MS Word and Adobe Acrobat to identify and address accessibility errors.
  4. Request a Document Accessibility Audit – a document accessibility audit is invaluable to document and characterize accessibility errors, and develop a remediation plan to achieve compliance with Section 508 and WCAG 2.0.
  5. Explore Professional Development Opportunities for your teams – professional development is the best way to proactively address document accessibility, and ensure that future documents are published in accessible formats.
 
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