Electronic documents, via a word processor, spreadsheet, presentation or other document creation application, are treated like a full electronic and information resource (EIR) product. They should conform with all WCAG 2.0 requirements relevant to them.
Document accessibility covers more than individuals with disabilities using assistive technology (AT). It allows individuals using a variety of internet browsers, and software to access the same content.
Electronic documents come in all shapes and sizes, so each will have its own steps for conforming with WCAG 2.0 requirements. See the guides and how-to’s specific to your software, or contact the vendor of your product for instructions on how to meet the guidelines.
Web Content or Document?
Should you use a PDF or a webpage? An Excel file? Or PowerPoint file? PDFs (and other file formats) are not as accessible as HTML pages because they are harder to markup in an accessible manner. A good use-case for a file would for templates, forms, complex tables, vitas, resumes, and other printable materials that would need to maintain style properties.
Anything else should be provide in HTML format to avoid compatibility issues, downloading issues, and other accessibility issues.
Guides and How-To’s
- Onix: PDF vs HTML: Which is the Best Route to Reach WCAG 2.0
- Access iQ: Time to break up with PDFs?
- Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI)
- Designing and Developing
- Use headings to convey meaning and structure
- Make link text meaningful
- Write meaningful text alternatives for images
- Provide clear instructions
- Keep content clear and concise
- Provide sufficient contrast between foreground and background
- Don’t use color alone to convey information
- Ensure that interactive elements are easy to identify
- Ensure that form elements include clearly associated labels
- Include image and media alternatives in your design
- Include alternative text for images
- Identify page language and language changes
- Use mark-up to convey meaning and structure
- Reflect the reading order in the code order
- Nielsen Norman Group
- Office of the Governor – Greg Abbott: Committee on People with Disabilities – Creating Accessible Microsoft Office Documents
- Adobe Accessibility
- Microsoft: Use Accessibility Checker rules to help ensure your Office documents, spreadsheets, and presentations are accessible
- The National Center on Disability and Access to Education (NCDAE): Cheat sheets for Creating Accessible Content
- Web AIM: WCAG 2.0 Checklist
- 3Play Media: Tips for Making Online Documents Accessible: Word, PowerPoint, Excel & PDF
Adobe Acrobat PDF Documents
- Web AIM: Creating Accessible Documents – PDF Accessibility
- Adobe Accessibility: WCAG 2.0 Techniques for PDF
Microsoft Word Documents
- Microsoft: Make your Word documents accessible
- Web AIM: Creating Accessible Documents – Microsoft Word
- Access iQ: Accessible Word documents
Microsoft Excel Documents
Microsoft PowerPoint Documents
- Microsoft: Make your PowerPoint presentations accessible
- Web AIM: Creating Accessible Documents – Microsoft PowerPoint