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Creating Accessible Documents

Introduction

It is estimated that up to 4% of the population relies on some sort of Assistive Technology to access electronic documents and Web pages. Assistive Technology includes; Screen Reading software, Refreshable Braille displays, and Screen Magnifiers. In the United States alone that equals 12.5 million people. If electronic documents are not created with accessibility issues in mind, they become very difficult if not impossible to read or navigate for this large number of people.

Accessibility to electronic documents is a right that is protected by both Federal and State law. Creating accessible electronic documents is important to ensure access to persons with disabilities and the company or agency is protected against legal action. Additionally, it is just good business, when a very large segment of the population can equally participate and take advantage of the products or services that the company or agency provides.


Resource:

W. (n.d.). Department of Rehabilitation Search Results. Retrieved from http://www.rehab.cahwnet.gov/serp.html?q=seven%2Bsteps%2Baccessibility&cx=001779225245372747843%3Aay7jzj19ebi&cof=FORID%3A10&ie=UTF-8

Step 1: Create an Accessible Word Document

Without Adobe Acrobat, the easiest way to create an accessible PDF file is to first begin with an accessible Microsoft Word document. A resource entitled ‘Make your Word documents accessible’ is available below. For any questions about how to create an accessible Word document, take a few minutes to review this document.

Make your Word documents accessible

Follow the directions provided in ‘Make your Word documents accessible’ resource to easily create an accessible Word document. Then simply follow these next few steps to successfully convert the accessible Word document into an accessible PDF file.

Step 2: Save as a 'PDF'

  • In order to save the accessible functionality of an accessible Microsoft Word document it must be ‘saved as’ a  PDF. To 'save as' a PDF using a mouse, go to 'File' and then 'Save As.' Select a destination for the file, then click the drop-down menu for 'Save As Type,' and select 'PDF. 
  • Select and open the 'Options...' menu and include the non-printing information including 'Document Properties' and 'Document Structure Tags for Accessibility.'
  • Click 'Ok' and then 'Save.'

Step 3: Check Accessibility with Adobe's Accessibility Tool

Because Adobe Acrobat is the native program for creating PDF files, the PDF just created using this method is possibly not perfectly accessible. However, if it was an accessible Word document, the PDF created should also be accessible and ready for distribution.

Perform a test of the PDF document’s accessibility prior to distributing it either via email or by posting it to the internet. To test a PDF for accessibility, use the Adobe Acrobat tool 'Accessibility' and run a 'Full Check' of your PDF.