Adding Inclusivity to Your Documents

Creating interactive PDF and WORD documents has, for many of us, become a background detail of doing business. Something most of us rarely think about, but something we could all benefit from thinking about a little more.

Increasing ADA guidelines and common accessibility standards are reaching beyond the physical into the realms of our digital communication. This means increasing the clarity and readability for those with vision issues, learning disabilities, or other conditions that make something like filling out a PDF form more challenging.

As businesses, it falls to us to take up this cause to make it possible for an even broader audience to access the services we provide, and there are a few basic tips to make the documents we create more accessible.

• Use high-contrast colors. People with limited vision often cannot differentiate between similar colors that blend together. Something as simple as ensuring that graphics and text are bold and visually distinct with high-contrast colors can go a long way.

• Use built-in title, subtitle, and heading styles to make it easier for screen reader software. Screen reader software for those with vision issues often requires very standardized formatting to convey its information. Use the built-in options to make this easier and clearer.

• Avoid using tables in documents. They can dramatically alter the formatting of a document and confuse screen reader software by disrupting the order of elements in your document.

• Include alt text with all images to ensure that everyone using your document knows the content of everything. A quick, concise description is all it takes.

• Use hyperlinks with clear and accurate information about the destination. Let readers know where links will be taking them.

• Use bold, sans-serif fonts for clear readability. Much like with the use of bold colors, this will be a tremendous help to those with vision issues.

• Increase the spaces between lines to make text easier to read for users with dyslexia.

Microsoft Word and Adobe Acrobat have included options that allow you to test the accessibility of your documents for yourself and determine if you are meeting current ADA guidelines.

Always remember, however, that meeting these new criteria is important in growing your business to meet the needs of all of your customers both existing and potential. In doing so, we can work to create a community where we all can achieve together.

Written by Blog Contributor: Holly Lynn Gibbons