Accessible Document Services
How Accessibility Applies to Documents and Files
Websites, online courses, and applications often host countless supporting files. However, many times, these supporting files are partially or completely inaccessible to people with visual, auditory, mobility, or cognitive disabilities.
It’s not just online files, either—Files that are emailed or otherwise sent digitally to the general public are also at risk of being discriminatory if not properly prepared. That’s because digital assets such as Microsoft Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, PowerPoint presentations, PDFs, and audio and video files could inadvertently be unperceivable by individuals with disabilities, simply because accessibility wasn’t considered when the content was created.
This can be especially critical for organizations in sectors that produce documents related to legal, financial, or health and safety concerns.
Here are some of the ways inaccessible documents become problematic for individuals with disabilities:
- Image details are often missing, preventing the blind or visually impaired from understanding the image intent.
- Navigation can be difficult or impossible for content that lacks properly implemented headings and navigation structures.
- Multi-media impact may be diminished or absent for those who can enjoy only portions of a presentation because of visual, auditory, mobility, or cognitive limitations. The lack of closed captions is just one instance of a missing accommodation that is vital to the Deaf and aging population communities.
- Motion, time outs, and other dynamics in video or presentation files can startle, distract, or in some cases, trigger seizures for those with cognitive impairment; these may also alienate those who need more time to read and understand the content.
- Document forms and controls may be unusable, hampering the ability to apply for employment or otherwise submit information.
Just as with accessible websites and other platforms, accessible documents allow more people to perceive and interact with the content you’ve produced.
The good news is that many common document creation tools have features that enhance accessibility, and that it can be built into the production process. However, for organizations that have a substantial body of historical work, or that generate frequent amounts of content, ensuring that your digital environment hosts only accessible documents can seem a daunting task.
We Help You Create, Remediate, and Maintain Accessible Documents and Files
There are several ways Microassist can enable your team to upload accessible documents and materials to your online or network environments. We can work with your team to establish best practices to address and maintain accessibility from creation to publishing. In each case, we abide by recognized accessibility standards such as the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 and Section 508 of the U.S. Rehabilitation Act.
- We can work with your content creators and designers to address accessibility through templates, styles, and accessibility best practices during or shortly after the planning stages, so that documents can be made accessible as they are being created.
- We can take final content and remediate them before posting online.
- We can convert appropriate content to PDF files using recommended workflows, making content accessible in that format before posting the PDF file online.
- If incorporating a culture of accessibility for the long term—which we recommend—we can provide regular training for subject matter experts across the organization, and help your organization establish policies and checklists that help you maintain an accessible online presence.
Building in document accessibility from the beginning as part of an organization’s standard operating procedure is significantly less burdensome than remediating hundreds of files at a later date. But in either case, we can partner with you to make sure your content is accessible to all.
Contact us to request an evaluation of your body of documents. No matter the complexity level, we can help.