PDFs and Web Accessibility
Companies often use PDFs (Portable Document Format) as a way to store and distribute information on their websites. In some cases, an organization may have hundreds, if not thousands, of digital documents on its site that accumulate year after year. In the case of education and finance, our team at AKEA Web Solutions has seen tens of thousands of documents on websites, which is both hard to manage and hard to catalog.
The same is true for Office Documents, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc…
PDFs and Office Documents Need to be ADA Compliant
It’s important to remember that these documents are part of a company’s digital environment and therefore fall under the realm of web accessibility. They, too, need to adhere to accessibility standards, so that the documents can be used and navigated by those people using screen readers and any assistive technology. Unfortunately, when building an accessible website, this step is often missed.
In order for a document to be considered accessible, it must meet certain technical criteria, while also being available for use by people with disabilities, including mobility impairment, blindness, low vision, deafness, hard of hearing or cognitive impairments.
The good news is that PDFs (Adobe Acrobat, Adobe Reader) and Office Documents can be made accessible and easier for people with disabilities to navigate, with the use of assistive technology such as screen readers, screen magnifiers, text-to-speech and others.
Standards have been created to provide easy accessibility for PDFs and other digital files to meet industry standards for web accessibility. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 (ISO/IEC 40500:2012) and the PDF/UA (ISO 14289-1) standard cover a wide range of recommendations for making content more accessible to people with disabilities.
By following these guidelines, documents uploaded to your website will be readable by screen readers and a mobile device will be able to properly render and display the document on the smaller screen.