The importance of an accessible PDF document strategy

October 4, 2014

Welcome to the Accessibil-IT blog! The first topic for discussion is about why it is so important for organizations to have a document accessibility strategy. Documents vary in size, type and complexity and to ensure accessibility is implemented cost-effectively, it is important to know how to best address each type of document.

Why have a document accessibility strategy?

Most companies and organizations have several departments, some of them at a distance from each other and some on different floors in the same building. Document owners are tasked with making their documents accessible before posting them and sometimes knowing what that means is quite fluid to say the least.

When companies want and/or need to comply with legislated standards for document accessibility, the first place staff should look for guidance is a company strategy. Ontario, for example must be AODA compliant and make content accessible. Having an accessible content strategy ensures your teams are using the most cost effective approach to achieving accessibility goals.

When a company or organization has an established strategy on implementing and achieving document accessibility, staff from all departments have guidance on what steps to take to make documents accessible. There will be fewer questions about what an accessible document is and how to achieve accessible documents. It is important to establish accessibility guidelines that provide a consistent end user experience.

What should the strategy consider?

There are a very wide range of types of documents within any organization. When Accessibil-IT prepares a document accessibility strategy, we look for the most cost effective approach to making a variety of document types accessible. Documents are evaluated for their level of complexity. Those that are simple and have a consistent design each time they are issued such as minutes or internal memos, are excellent candidates for templates. An accessible template is developed, which allows everyone who uses it to issue automatically accessible documents. Alternately, highly complex documents such as annual reports with extensive financial tables and graphics may require external experts to meet accessibility compliance requirements.

When it comes to legacy documents, there may be hundreds or thousands of documents still in use. Depending on when your organization is required by legislation to have all legacy documents accessible, we can recommend an automated option that would allow PDF documents to be made accessible to the PDF/UA standard on request. PDF accessibility can minimize costs as one document can be distributed to everyone.

Need help?

As you begin developing an accessibility strategy, goals and objectives may appear to be overwhelming. Organizations that have hundreds and thousands of legacy PDF, are creating PDF documents every day and anticipate adding PDF documents in the future.

The costs in human resources and capital can seem insurmountable.

This is where Accessibil-IT can help. We can assist you with developing an organizational strategy. We work collaboratively, cost effectively, and in a timely manner to make sure your pdf documents are accessible.
Employees should have an understanding of the basics. Our approach is to work with organizations and staff to create a high quality experience for employees and customers with disabilities accessing your documents.

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