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Accessible documents

As much as possible, the ultimate goal is ease of access to information. Most documents can be made at least minimally accessible with the techniques listed below.  In general :

  • PDFs that display text as an image are completely inaccessible to anyone with a print disability.  (Read more about working with inaccessible, image-based pdfs.)
  • PDFs or other documents that are text-based are partially accessible.  For example, Word, Excel and some Powerpoint documents are already text-based. 
  • Tagged, text-based documents are the most accessible.  (Read the directions below to tag your text-based document.

Create accessible Word documents using these simple steps:

  • Organize your information in logical fashion so that readers can follow it.
  • Structure the text with heading styles and lists.
  • Provide alternative presentations for potentially inaccessible items such as images (alt tags), complex tables and media with sound (captions).
  • Add a Table of Content to long documents.
  • Double-check what you've done against:
    • known experts in the field or organizational experts (usually someone with a disability is the best option)
    • standards, best practices and automated checkers
  • Invite comments and criticisms and be willing to modify what you've done.
  • Save it "as pdf" from Word if needed. 

Create accessible PDFs with InDesign (Adobe documentation):

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