Accessible digital documents

Digital document accessibility is similar to website accessibility in that it “will make content more accessible to a wider range of people with disabilities, including accommodations for blindness and low vision, deafness and hearing loss, limited movement, speech disabilities, photosensitivity, and combinations of these.”—WCAG 2.1

The Accessibility of Information Technology Policy lists WCAG 2.1 as the standard for digital materials at the University.

Making your documents accessible is also a needed first step if you are going to convert your document to PDF in the future.

7 Core Skills

Great first steps are to Start with the 7 Core Skills. These skills will apply to digital documents, websites, and email communications. The seven core skills are:

  • Alternative text
    Alt text is used to describe images, graphs, and charts. It gives meaning and context to your image for people who are visually impaired or have images disabled from loading.
  • Contrast
    High contrast between the foreground and background will help all users understand your information. This includes viewers with colorblindness; viewing your content in sunlight; or using a setting that changes how colors appear, such as high contrast mode or night mode.
  • Headings
    Headings are like chapters and subchapters for your document. They give your content structure and allow for easy scannability.
  • Links
    Links should be descriptive of what the user will view when they click it and should be unique in your document. Links of “View more,” “Click here,” or “Register” should not be used because when read out of context, they have very little meaning.
  • Lists
    Ordered and bulleted lists should use the program/editor’s list function. Instead of typing “1),” use the list function in the editor so it also has the correct structure behind the scenes.
  • Tables
    Tables should be used to convey information, have header row and/or column identified, and include a summary. Tables should not be used solely for visual formatting.
  • Video and audio
    Though you will probably not have many video or audio clips directly in a document, presentations may. All linked and embedded video and audio files should include captions (reviewed by a human) and transcripts. 

Next steps 

The Digital Accessibility Badging Program teaches you how to create emails, slide decks, documents, and more in an accessible way, without using code. In each self-paced online workshop, you will learn skills and apply them to your everyday work. You may take as many workshops as you like.

The Accessibility Ambassadors Google Group is useful for peer-to-peer help and to point you in the right direction if they don’t have the right answer. You can also have your website or documents reviewed for accessibility with a Digital Resource Accessibility Assessment.

Topics: Web