Accessible Documents Workshop – From Word to PDF

Why we’re here

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This document contains some of the most common issues that you will run into as you work with Word files. It is not complicated. You will encounter more complex documents but for now, this one will give us some good practice.

Determine the Purpose

Ask yourself “Does the document need to be a download? Could it be a Web page instead [Opens in New Window]?” If the answer is yes, and you want to provide the document as a supplemental download, it will still need to be made accessible to provide the equivalent experience.

Start with the Source

You will save yourself time and headache if you create an accessible source document and then convert it to a PDF. You will also make your document more portable. It will be more easily viewed in all Web browsers, all devices including tablets and smart phones and all operating systems including Windows and Mac. There is going to be a learning curve but I will promise you that if you create an accessible source document, your work in creating an accessible PDF will be far less taxing than it will be if you don’t.


What Does Make a Document Accessible?

The requirements are similar but not identical to what it takes to make a Web page accessible:

  1. Logical Reading Order & Structure
  2. Headings, Lists, Paragraphs
  3. Document Title and Language
  4. Alternate text, captions for images, tables, objects
  5. Tables for data only – proper formatting
  6. Color contrast and information
  7. “Human readable” links – descriptive text