Creating Accessible Documents
Clear, accessible content can support someone to act independently, make their own decisions, or learn something new.
Approximately 1.5 million people have a learning disability. Over 2 million people have a visual impairment. 10% of the UK population have some form of dyslexia. 4.5% of the population have some form of colour blindness. Creating accessible documents is essential.
- Use the Title, Heading, Sub heading and Body options to create documents.
- This gives structure of a page and helps screen readers and keyboard navigators move through the content and not miss relevant information or links.
- Tables are generally not accessible for screen readers. Especially if you require the reader/user to provide information in your document.
Break up Large Areas of Text
- Keep paragraphs small.
- Use sub-headings above paragraphs which clearly identify what that paragraph is about.
- Move to a new paragraph if you change your theme in terms of Time, Place, Topic or Person (TiPToP).
- If possible, consider keeping paragraphs to one or two sentences.
- This makes content easier to read and understand especially for readers with visual impairments or learning difficulties.
Keep Font Sizes Large
- Recommended 18 for headings and 12 or 14 for body text.
- Do not go below font size 12 for body text.
- Do not use italics.
- Recommended fonts are Sans Serif options, such as Arial.
Consider Colour Contrast
- Do not rely on colour to distinguish information, always use text as well.
- If using hyperlinks, always underline as well as using the blue colour. Consider also using bold.
- If using colour for the text or background, the colour contrast ratio should be 4.5:1 or above.
- Recommended to use dark font colour (dark blue or black) on a light background. White gives the highest contrast ratio for those with visual impairments. However, a light colour background (i.e., not white) is more accessible for those with dyslexia or learning difficulties or disabilities.
Keep Content Clear
- Use clear language and avoid the use of jargon wherever possible.
- Do not use symbols in place of words, for example do not use & instead of and.
- Keep sentences short and remember TiPToP.
- If you require the reader/user to provide information, in each section consider adding a sentence to describe what you are looking for.
- For hyperlinks, be clear what you are linking to and avoid “Click here” links.
- If appropriate, use images which explain what the text is about.
Correctly Label Images
- All images should be captioned and alt text must be provided as this allows screen readers to inform the reader/user about the image.
- Alt text is a description of the content of an image, whereas captions provide more contextual information. Make sure it is informative and descriptive.
- If using images of text (e.g., statistics) ensure the alt text details the same text in the image. Although if you are using an image of text, it is especially important to consider font, font size and colour contrast as these cannot be adjusted by the reader/user when in an image.
- In a document you can add alt text by clicking on Review tab and selecting Check Accessibility and Alt Text.
- A logo or design element can be marked as ‘decorative’ and will be ignored by screen readers.
Review your Document
Remember to Check Accessibility when you have created your document.
- Go to the Review tab and select Check Accessibility.
- Results will be displayed to the right of your document. Make the required changes.
- When saving as a PDF, select Document structure tags for accessibility checkbox then select OK. Or select Options and ensure Enable Accessibility and Reflow with tagged Adobe PDF is checked.