Creating Documents

Accessible documents are more usable for everyone, not just people with disabilities, because accessible documents work better across all web browsers, computer systems, and mobile devices. In addition, accessible documents enable assistive technology software such as screen readers and magnifiers to be more effective. Ensuring that your documents are made in an accessible manner provides everyone with an equal opportunity to access information. 

Just like web accessibility, document accessibility can be achieved by addressing these issues:

  • applying styles for headings,
  • making content scannable with bullets or numbered lists,
  • including alternate text for images, graphics or charts,
  • descriptive hyperlinks
  • use of color and color contrast,
  • adding simple tables, and
  • verifying flow in Adobe Acrobat.

The resources below will help you in the process of creating accessible documents.

Contact the Division of Information Technology accessibility team if you have any questions or comments.

Did you know?

  • In the United States, about 55 million people have a disability (src: 2010 U.S. Census).
  • About 1 in 5 Americans have some kind of disability (src: 2010 U.S. Census).
  • The percentage of people affected by disabilities is growing as our population ages.
  • Two popular, free screen readers are VoiceOver (Mac OS and iOS) and NVDA (Win).
  • Good accessibility practices can improve the search ranking of your website.
  • Form fields without labels can cause problems for some assistive technology users.
  • Low color contrast makes content difficult to see, especially for users with low vision.
  • Documents linked on a website need to be accessible too (e.g., PDF and Word files).
  • Audio content, like podcasts, need transcripts for deaf or hard of hearing users.
  • Online videos should be captioned for deaf or hard of hearing users.
  • Using HTML tags correctly is very important for accessibility.
  • Descriptive link text helps make a website more accessible. Avoid using "Click here" or "Read more."
  • A "screen reader" is an application that reads content aloud to a user.
  • There is no "alt tag" in HTML. "Alt" is an attribute used with the img tag.
  • HTML uses the alt attribute to provide a text description of an image.
  • Alt text should describe an image, if the purpose of the image is to convey information.
  • If an image is a link, the alt text for the image should explain where the link goes.
  • If an image is only being used for decoration, the alt text should be null (i.e., alt="").
  • If a table has headers, using header tags (<th>) will make the table more accessible.
  • An accessible website is one that can be navigated and understood by everyone.