Register now for the April 25th webinar: Access to Medical Care & Medical Diagnostic Equipment Best Practices for People with Disabilities!  

Document accessibility

Creating accessible documents allows more people to read and understand the information you are sharing. When making accessible documents, you need to think about:

  • Format
  • Content

Format

As you create your document, think about things that will make it easier to read:

  • Use a sans serif font like Arial, Calibri, Helvetica, or Verdana.
  • Make the font 12 pt font or larger.
  • Use high contrast fonts and background colors. Try the contrast checker tool at WebAIM to see how good the contrast is.
  • Avoid busy backgrounds where there is text.
  • Avoid using color only to point out information.

Document formats

You also need to be prepared to convert your document into a format that works with someone’s communication needs. 

Examples

  • Large print (typically 18 pt font)
  • Braille
  • Electronic format
  • Audio recording

Electronic formats

Electronic formats include any format that can be viewed on a smart phone, computer, or tablet.  Information can be shared electronically in many formats.

Examples

  • Microsoft Word or Excel document
  • PDF
  • Powerpoint presentation
  • Graphic or infographic

If your document is fully accessible, that means that someone who uses assistive technology will be able to get the same information from reading it as someone who doesn’t use assistive technology. 

Common assistive technologies include screen readers and screen magnifiers. Learn about assistive technology

When you make a document in an electronic format, you should: 

  • Use and label headings for easier document navigation.
  • Include alt text on your images to describe them.
  • Make sure tables and charts are probably labeled.

Some common software programs, like Microsoft Word and Adobe PDF have built in accessibility checkers to help check for errors.

Content

You also need to make sure the information you are sharing is easy to understand. Plain language is content people can understand the first time they read or hear it.

Plain language tips

  • Avoid jargon or overly complex words.
  • Break up long sentences into shorter ones.
  • Use words your audience would know and use when having a conversation.
  • If you have to use complex terms, say what those terms mean.
  • Put your information in logical order.
  • Use an active voice in your writing.
  • Break information down into bullets or numbered lists when you can. 
  • Break larger paragraphs or blocks of texts up. White space helps readers avoid getting overwhelmed.

Plain language writing tools

Learn more

For more information on document accessibility, check out these resources:

Ask us

If you have questions about the document accessibility, we can help.

Close window