Creating documents that can be accessed and read by people of all abilities is just as important as creating accessible web content.
Imagine going to an employment website and downloading the position description as a Word or PDF document, only to find that you cannot access the document using your screen reader because the content is inaccessible. The same could happen if that position description is sent to you as an attachment to an email.
As a widely used format to communicate information both online and via email, it is important to learn how to create a documents that can be accessed by most people, including people with a disability and older Australians.
Appropriate use of different document types
Before creating a document for the web, you should consider what the most appropriate format is for the information you want to convey.
We commonly hear the following:
“We chose to use Word documents on the web for a variety of reasons. We already have content in a Word document and it seems quicker to just wack the document online than create web content. We feel more comfortable using Word than making changes to our website, so we go with what’s familiar. People may want to print the document, so a Word document is the best way to do that, right?“
The Accessible Document Service by Media Access Australia specialises in remediating documents so that the content is accessible.
There are still certain content types (e.g. tables) that are more accessible as web content but there are going to be times when a PDF may be the most appropriate format. A 50-page report, for instance, could be made available as web content but users may wish to scan the document for the most pertinent information.
Users with disabilities can perform the equivalent of visual scans of content using their assistive technology: they can scan heading levels using and jump to specific pages but only if the document has been created in an accessible manner.
So don’t shut your customers out from engaging with your content – by making your content accessible you maximise consumer satisfaction and engagement and comply with Australian law.