Creating Accessible Documents – Word and PDFs
When creating content, there are a few basic steps that should be followed in order to assure your content is accessible. It is recommended that documents are started in Microsoft Word and then appropriately exported into PDF. A checklist is provided, with detailed instructions for each step outlined below.
To see why creating accessible documents is important, check out this 3 minute video of a screen reader going through accessible and inaccessible Word Documents. And here is an example of a screen reader going through an inaccessible PDF.
Checklist when starting in Word
- Added built-in Headings to document and did not skip numbers (e.g. jumping from Heading 1 to Heading 3)
- Used built-in List options (e.g. bullets or numbers)
- Added Alt Text for all images
- Identified the document language
- Defined Table Headers and simplified Tables as much as possible
- (optional) Exported to PDF while preserving accessibility
- Download the ABC Form
Use the built-in Heading styles like “Heading 1″ and “Heading 2″. Making text larger and bold does not make it a heading. Try not to skip headings. After a heading has been selected, you are able to edit the font, size and other attributes if you do not like the built-in look.
Use the built-in options like bullets or numbers. Without using these, a list is not really a list to those using an outside program to read the document. Both numbered and bulleted lists are customizable. Just click on the arrow adjacent to the desired list button and select “Define New Bullet/Number Format” for a different design if you do not like the built-in options.
Add alternate text for Images, Links, and Uploaded Files
It’s recommended to provide the description of the images, links, and uploaded files.