Digital Content Accessibility

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Revision as of 10:42, 12 December 2013 by Csingleton9 (talk | contribs)
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Content or Document Accessibility refers to documents saved in common file formats, posted to websites or distributed through email, and the need to provide them in an accessible format. Documents designed using accessibility standards and guidelines are beneficial for all users. Accessibility considerations include: document structure, navigation, alternative text descriptions, logical reading order and adequate labels.

Digital content accessibility guidelines are very similar to the guidelines and standards for ensuring web content is accessible, however, the techniques to achieve accessibility will vary depending on the format of the document.

The most common file formats posted on websites and used for sharing and disseminating information are:

  • Microsoft Word .docx
  • Adobe .pdf
  • Mircosoft PowerPoint .pptx
  • Microsoft Excel .xls



  • Be Navigable (has headings, bookmarks, etc.)
  • Read in a logical order
  • Contain text rather than a picture of text (i.e. scanned documents)
  • Have file security disabled
  • Contain images, charts, and graphs that are described using alternative text
  • Contain form fields that have appropriate labels so you can tab through the form fields in the correct order
  • Use meaningful hyperlink text
  • Provide accurate metadata in document properties


  • Apply document structure
  • Use built in templates
  • Text on solid background, not over an image
  • No flash animations (flash is more than 3x/second)
  • Headers now must be checked when creating tables
  • Tab through slide to check order of floating objects
  • Make sure all key information is viewable in the outline format


  • Labels to forms
  • Color contrast between text and background colors
  • Do not use color as sole meaning of communication (ex:error messages)
  • Fonts are easy to read
  • PDF files need to be texts not images


  • Alt-text summary information
  • Specificy collumn header information


  • Add tags to PDFs to create document structure and provide logical reading order
  • Add alternative text to all meaningful images in your document which describes the image to someone who cannot see it
  • Add bookmarks to increase the navigability of the document
  • Add appropriate metadata, such as title/author in the advanced properties of your document


Create Accessible Word Documents from Microsoft

Create Accessible Word Documents from WebAIM

Microsoft Word "Cheat Sheet"

Create Accessible pdfs from word documents

Acrobat X Pro best practices for PDF accessibility

Microsoft PowerPoint 2007/2010 (PC)

PowerPoint Accessibility Checklist from

JAWS Forms Mode

Accessible PDF Forms

Creating Accessible Excel workbooks

GSA 508 Tutorials, Guidance, Checklists