From the Accessible Content Working Group
For many years, PDFs were considered the best document type for any and all purposes, but our understanding of technology and users has evolved. If you feel like your document workflows might be stuck in 1993, the year PDFs were launched, then read on to learn how to make those workflows more efficient and digital documents more accessible.
- Eliminate unnecessary steps and share your source document.
- Your original documents created as Word or Google docs can be shared with and accessed by most users. Developing content in these platforms using some simple document accessibility steps can make your output more readily inclusive. (Check out Creating Accessible Basic Google Docs and Microsoft Word: Creating Accessible Documents (from WebAIM) to learn more.)
- Sharing the source document comes with other advantages: a smoother workflow, time saved, built-in version history, and improved accessibility for a broader audience.
- Leverage web platforms like WordPress or Canvas to create and share accessible content.
- Instead of uploading your document as a PDF, consider using it as a guide for creating a page in Canvas or WordPress.
- Using simple features like alt text and good structure will make your information more accessible for your audience, whether you are trying to reach students, colleagues, or the broader world. (Learn more about alt text in context from WebAIM, review web Accessibility Principles from the Web Accessibility Initiative, and check out WebAIM’s discussion of semantic structural elements like headings and lists.)
- Information shared through WordPress or Canvas can be updated regularly without having to share a new version with your audience. If using a more static document type, like PDF, you will have to send out a new version with every update.
- Avoid scanning and save time.
- When sharing articles, it’s best to share the original document native to a digital format, rather than sharing a scan of a printed document.
- Scanning is time-consuming and often introduces errors or digital clutter to a document, reducing a scan’s usability and potentially making it inaccessible for those using assistive technology.
- When assigning a book chapter or article, check to see if the material is available as an e-book or digital file through ZSR Library. You can download the chapter as a PDF or share the link with your audience.
Visit Technology Accessibility Resources for more information!