What is document accessibility?
Accessibility is a vast subject, with deep impacts. The two most important aspects of creating accessible documents and content is being empathetic and celebrating accessibility requirements as a set of principles that improves content for every reader. Doing that layers your work with an inclusive mentality that benefits the many. Not the few.
Accessibility helps users of all abilities to understand, use and enjoy the web. Sadly, there’s a myth that content and document accessibility is difficult and expensive, but it isn’t, when the core principles are incorporated from the beginning of the creation process.
As a content creator or website designer, it’s your responsibility to bring a better experience to all users and readers, irrespective of their situation, abilities or context.
An accessible document is a document that’s easily read and used by everyone – including people with disabilities, low vision, low literacy levels and non-sighted readers. The document should be screen reader-friendly and Dyslexia and color-blindness friendly.
Documents of various file formats (e.g. Word, PDF, HTML, etc.) can be designed to make content accessible to assistive technology by applying a set of common principles.
Having an online Accessibility Testing Tool reviews your content and flags any document accessibility issues that may be a potential problem for someone with a disability. It also suggests how you can resolve the issues that it finds.
Our Accessibility Testing tool is set at compliance level AA of the WCAG guidelines.
Once you’ve pasted the content into the editor UI, click the button and it works in the background to detect any document accessibility issues.
There is no one accessible document format that's superior to the others. If the core accessibility principle of providing a solid structure and hierarchy is applied, then the content is likely readable and accessible across a range of digital formats, from HTML, to MS Word, Google Docs and PDFs.
Each document format has its own way to assist you in adding structure, so the most important thing is to design the content using semantic structure, including headings, lists and tables, during the creation phase. Other points to remember are:
Digital document accessibility is most effective when it is incorporated from the beginning of the document creation process.
Naturally though, you should still test for accessibility on all documents, in all formats, before they’re published. While it’s impossible to cover all situations, your efforts to make your content accessible so that it reaches all users, can yield many rewards – sometimes in unexpected ways.
Di Mace is a freelance copywriter and messaging strategist who's worked with both B2B and B2C brands across the country. She helps businesses identify who their best-fit customers are, what drives them to do what they do, and then crafts messages that turn them from fans into customers and evangelists.