In today’s digital age, accessibility is a crucial aspect of any website. As more businesses recognize the importance of inclusivity, ensuring that everyone can access and navigate their online content has become a top priority. When it comes to sharing information in a portable and universally compatible format, PDFs are a popular choice. However, creating accessible PDFs that comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) can be a challenge, and many websites are being sued for having inaccessible PDFs. In this blog post, we will guide you through the process of creating accessible PDFs for your website, helping you reach a wider audience and ensure compliance with accessibility standards.

Use Clear and Descriptive File Names:

When creating a PDF, start by giving it a clear and descriptive file name. This helps individuals who use screen readers or assistive technologies to understand the content of the file before opening it. By using keywords that accurately describe the PDF’s contents, you enhance its accessibility and make it easier for users to find and comprehend.

Ensure Proper Document Structure:

To make your PDF accessible, it’s essential to establish a logical and well-structured document hierarchy. Use headings, subheadings, and paragraphs appropriately to organize your content. These structural elements enable users to navigate through the document using assistive technologies such as screen readers, providing them with a seamless reading experience.

Add Alternative Text (Alt Text) to Images:

Images play an important role in conveying information, but they can be inaccessible to people with visual impairments. By adding alternative text (alt text) to images in your PDF, you provide a textual description that can be read by screen readers. Alt text should be concise, descriptive, and convey the purpose or meaning of the image accurately.

Choose Accessible Fonts and Colors:

Font selection and color contrast are crucial aspects of PDF accessibility. Use fonts that are easy to read and understand, avoiding decorative or script fonts that may hinder legibility. Additionally, ensure that the text has sufficient contrast with the background color to enhance readability for users with visual impairments.

Include Descriptive Hyperlinks:

If your PDF contains hyperlinks, it’s essential to make them descriptive and meaningful. Instead of using generic phrases like “click here,” provide specific and informative link text that accurately describes the linked content. This enables users with screen readers to understand the purpose of the link without relying on surrounding context.

Use Proper Table Markup:

When presenting tabular information in a PDF, it’s crucial to use proper table markup to maintain accessibility. Structure your tables using table headers (th) and table data (td) elements. This allows assistive technologies to interpret the table’s content accurately and present it to users in a meaningful way.

Ensure Readability with Proper Formatting:

Consider the readability of your PDF by using appropriate formatting techniques. Utilize headings, bullet points, and numbered lists to organize information and improve scannability. These formatting elements make it easier for users to navigate and comprehend the content, especially when using assistive technologies.

Run Accessibility Checks:

After creating your PDF, it’s essential to run accessibility checks using tools like Adobe Acrobat Pro or other PDF accessibility validators. These tools can identify any accessibility issues within your document and provide suggestions for improvement. By fixing these issues, you enhance the accessibility and usability of your PDFs. Typical tests include Adobe Accessibility and PAC 2021/ PAC 3 report showing PDF/UA-1 compliance. PDFs need to be downloaded instead of using a web browser for proper text-to-speed or screen reader functionality using Adobe Acrobat Reader DC with Voiceover and Adobe Acrobat Reader DC with NVDA.

Provide Text Versions of Non-Text Content:

In some cases, your PDF may include non-text content such as charts, graphs, or diagrams. To ensure accessibility, it’s important to provide text versions or descriptions of this content. You can include a summary or a detailed explanation of the visual elements in the PDF, allowing individuals who cannot see the images to understand the information they convey.

Consider Language and Reading Order:

If your PDF contains multiple languages or complex reading orders, take extra care to maintain accessibility. Clearly indicate the language of each section and ensure that the reading order follows a logical flow. This helps individuals who use screen readers or other assistive technologies to understand and navigate the content correctly.

Include Accessible Forms:

If your PDF contains forms, make sure they are accessible to all users. Use proper form fields and labels, allowing individuals using assistive technologies to understand the purpose of each field and provide the necessary information accurately. Additionally, consider providing an accessible alternative, such as an HTML form on your website, for users who may have difficulty interacting with PDF forms.

Provide Contact Information and Support:

Even with accessible PDFs, some users may still encounter challenges or have specific accessibility requirements. It’s important to provide contact information or support options where users can reach out for assistance. This demonstrates your commitment to accessibility and helps users feel supported and valued.

It’s crucial to remember that accessibility is an ongoing process. Regularly reviewing and updating your PDFs is essential to ensure they comply with the latest accessibility standards and guidelines. Seeking feedback from users, especially those with disabilities, can provide valuable insights into their experiences and help you make further improvements.

By creating accessible PDFs for your website, you not only meet ADA regulations but also foster inclusivity and expand your audience reach. Accessible content benefits individuals with disabilities, enhances user experience, and showcases your commitment to creating an inclusive online environment.

Here at EcomBack, we fully understand the significance of accessibility in the digital world. Our expertise lies in developing websites and PDFs that adhere to ADA guidelines and prioritize accessibility. Our team of experts is ready to assist you in optimizing your PDFs for accessibility, ensuring that your valuable content reaches all users, regardless of their abilities.

If you’re seeking professional guidance in creating accessible PDFs for your website and enhancing your online presence, we invite you to contact us at EcomBack. Reach out to us today to learn more about our services and discover how we can help you create accessible PDFs that empower inclusivity and elevate your online brand.