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.

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 adaptive technologies
  • Color contrast and font size guidelines ensure readers with low vision can see all content

Word & PowerPoint Documents


Without Adobe Acrobat, the easiest way to create an accessible PDF file is to first begin with an accessible Microsoft Word document. For any questions about how to create an accessible Word document take a few minutes to download and review 'Seven Steps to Creating an Accessible Word document. In addition to these seven steps, please watch the following video tutorial series for an in-depth look at making accessible Word documents.

Creating an Accessible Word Document (PDF, 1.52 MB)

Accessible Word Documents Video Tutorials

You are encouraged to test your document using the Accessible Electronic Document Community of Practice Basic Authoring and Testing Guide for Word 2016.


PowerPoint documents are an easy way to create a visual aid for a presentation or for lectures in the classroom. They can be made accessible using the built-in tools in PowerPoint, but some training is required. Below there are two resources that will teach you how to make PowerPoint presentations accessible.

Creating an Accessible PowerPoint Presentation (PDF, .87 MB)

WebAim PowerPoint Training

Microsoft Video Tutorial

PDF Documents

PDF documents are easy to create and can be made accessible using tools within the software. Adobe Creative Cloud is free for all Texas State faculty and staff and may be downloaded from the DoIT Services website.

The accessibility tool in Adobe DC gives you a complete readout of the most important errors to correct in your document. Please watch the following 1-hour tutorial on accessible PDF if you are a document creator in your office.

Accessible PDF Video Tutorials

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)

Accessible PDF Quick Reference

  1. Text is searchable
  2. Use common font types to ensure they are exportable to other mediums
  3. Form fields must be interactive with accessible error messages
    1. No timer on forms
  4. Link text must be descriptive
  5. Document language and title need to be defined
  6. If secured, you must ensure the security feature works with assistive technology
  7. Proper tagging for reading order
  8. Alt text for non-decorative images