Document Accessibility

Importance for Accessibility

Accessible documents allow users of adaptive technology to comprehend and navigate content. Without proper design, adaptive technology may interpret the document in the wrong order, without important graphics or in a format too confusing for the user to comprehend.

Canvas Training Modules

Training modules for Word, PowerPoint, and Adobe PDF were published by the Electronic Information Resources Accessibility Coordinator in Canvas. These courses provide step by step guidance and can be accessed at any time.

Formatting a Document

Proper formatting ensures information is presented the way the author intended. When you create an accessible document, you are using methods that make a document usable by individuals with any type of disability.

Assistive technology is used by individuals to help them understand electronic information and digital documents such as PDFs or Word documents. For example, screen readers or text-to-speech software are tools available which assists individuals who are blind, have low vision or a learning disability.

Some requirements of a properly formatted document:

  • Header levels, tags and tabbing are in order
    • This helps determines the correct reading order
  • Descriptive alt text for images and graphics
  • Forms can be filled electronically while using assistive technologies and only the keyboard
  • Color contrast and font size guidelines ensure readers with low vision can see all content

PDF Documents

Adobe Creative Cloud is free for all Texas State faculty and staff and may be downloaded from the DoIT Services website.

Creating accessible PDF can be challenging for editors without a background in HTML. In most cases, it is recommended that PDF not be created when a web page can house the same content. When PDF are necessary, it is recommended that you start with an accessible source document, export to PDF, and then check the tag tree for accuracy and completion.

You can learn how to make accessible source documents using the Word and PowerPoint training modules in Canvas.

Once you have an accessible source document, you can learn how to export and check the tag tree created by Adobe Acrobat using another course in Canvas which is linked below.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website also provides excellent guidance for tagging PDF.

Section 508 PDF Tagging Guide (PDF, 1.92 MB)