There are many facets to digital accessibility, and each plays a vital role in creating a more equitable online world for everyone. Producing accessible documents is one example, and it’s become essential for any organization, including enterprises, municipalities, government agencies, universities, and educational institutions.
Accessible documents help everyone access the information they need regardless of their physical or cognitive abilities. And they can benefit your organization in several ways. From meeting compliance to improving customer reach and service, they can help make your website and organization more inclusive and prosperous in the long term.
Most importantly, digital accessibility helps millions of people with disabilities thrive in online environments. And that’s something we should all commit to achieving.
Let’s start with a basic definition of accessible documents and go from there.
What Are Accessible Documents?
Accessible documents provide information everyone can access and understand, including people with vision, cognitive, and mobility impairments. For example, using clear and straightforward language in documents makes it easier to absorb and retain content. Likewise, intuitive website menus make documents more accessible, allowing end users to quickly find the information they need.
So, how can your company produce a wide range of accessible documents? Numerous assistive tech tools work with MS Office to convert documents—technical guides, contracts, and business reports—into accessible PDFs. There are also specific guidelines for providing Microsoft Word accessibility.
But remember that these efforts are about more than just providing accessible Word documents or PDFs and meeting compliance. It’s also about opening your website to a broader audience, enhancing your image, and improving customer relations.
Accessible Documents: A Necessary Business Policy
There are numerous benefits to creating accessible documents for enterprises, municipalities, and governments. First, accessible documents can significantly expand your customer reach because it shows your commitment to inclusivity.
In other words, by making documents and information more accessible, you can connect with more people personally, including those with disabilities. And by increasing inclusivity, you reach a broader range of end users, which can help support your bottom line.
Another benefit is improved customer service. Accessible documents can make it easier for customers with disabilities to access the information they need, which can help instill trust. Naturally, exceptional customer service can increase and sustain customer satisfaction, which should be the ultimate goal of any organization.
What About Compliance?
Providing accessible documents can also help protect you legally—this has never been more critical as lawsuits for non-compliance continue to increase. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires all businesses, organizations, and government entities to provide accessible documents and information to their customers, employees, and citizens. Failure to comply with the ADA (including ADA document compliance) can lead to fines and other legal action. In addition, 508 document compliance requires electronic document accessibility for people of every ability.
What are your next steps? The checklist below will help guide you in the right direction.
Your Accessible Documents Checklist
There are several strategies for creating accessible documents. Use the checklist below to get started in the right direction:
1. Provide Alternative Text for All Visual Elements
Alternative text helps people with vision-related impairments perceive and comprehend important images and other visual variables in a document.
2. Provide Accessible Fonts
Inaccessible fonts can deter accessibility and readability. Fortunately, many san serif fonts increase readability because they visually have more space than others. Moreover, some fonts are also specifically made for people with dyslexia and other vision-related impairments.
3. Integrate Lists Into Longer Documents
Using numbers or bullets for document lists breaks up and adds space to your content, making it easier to find and understand.
4. Provide Relevant Hyperlink Text & ScreenTips
Those who rely on screen readers are likely to scan links for the information they want.
5. Don’t Place Crucial Info in Document Headers and Footers
Screen readers don’t typically scan headers and footers, which can cause people who rely on this tech to overlook important content.
Summary: It’s Time To Help Our Fellow Human Beings
Creating accessible documents is essential for all organizations, including enterprises, municipalities, and governments. They can help expand your customer reach, strengthen customer relations, and help mitigate costly lawsuits for non-compliance.
But it’s important to remember that accessibility isn’t merely a story about compliance and better business strategies. It’s a story about respecting all of our fellow human beings, regardless of their background or abilities. So let’s all do our part to ensure everybody can rely on and enjoy the online world to its fullest extent.
See how UserWay can help you achieve this.
UserWay: Accessible Documents & So Much More
UserWay is on a mission to make the digital world accessible to all people of all abilities. And helping you provide accessible documents is one of the many ways we achieve that mission. Learn how UserWay’s full suite of accessibility solutions can support your organization’s effort to be more inclusive and compliant in today’s world.
Start by setting up a time to meet with a representative today.
What is the Main Purpose of Accessible Documents?
This is a recap, but it’s worth repeating: accessible documents provide all textual and graphical content in a way that everyone—including people with disabilities—can access and understand. They also interact seamlessly with assistive technologies used by people with disabilities to access that information.
What Four Main Elements Comprise Accessible Documents?
- Scannable: People can quickly scan documents and locate relevant info.
- Searchable: Users can rely on digital devices for keyword searches.
- Legible: Sighted readers can physically read the text.
- Readable: People can easily comprehend a document’s content.
What Are The Best Document Formats for Accessibility?
Plain text, MS Word/Excel/PowerPoint, and PDF formats are the most frequently used document formats for optimal accessibility.