Authoring tools like Microsoft Word, Microsoft PowerPoint, and Adobe InDesign make creating accessible documents, forms, and presentations relatively straightforward. Rather than learning entirely new authoring methods, you may simply do the things you’re already doing, just a little bit differently. Even when a document is ultimately published as an accessible PDF, accessible design in the original authoring platform will allow for more sustainable and unchallenging efforts to apply modifications in the future.
Avoid serif fonts and ALL CAPS (outside of explained acronyms) for purposes of readability.
Use size 12 pt. font or larger for documents and size 18 pt. or larger for presentations.
Use the simplest language appropriate for your content.
Use columns, horizontal line separators, and empty (white) space strategically to improve readability.
Use images, graphics, and diagrams to dynamically supplement text.
Proofread for misspellings, grammar errors, and broken links.
Never use color alone to convey meaning.
Use headings, accessible tables, lists, and other structural tools to differentiate between categories. Color may still be used to supplement.
Ensure appropriate color contrast between foreground and background.
Input associated hex keys into a color contrast checker like the WebAIM Contrast Checker.
Ensure that you include a descriptive title and that the language of the document is set appropriately.
Use descriptive links that make sense out of context.
Do not use generic phrases like “learn more,” “click here,” or “more information.”
Avoid lengthy or complex URLs as link text.
Include alternative text that describes the content and function for all non-decorative images.
Use properly formatted, built-in list structure for bulleted and numbered lists.
When you design a document, form, or presentation with an authoring tool that allows for accessible design and export to PDF accurately, accessibility validation can be quick and easy. When you inherit a PDF, and the original document is unavailable, validation and any subsequent remediation may take some time and effort.
Please refer to our IT Accessibility Knowledge Base article on Remediating Inaccessible PDF Content for more information on repairing inaccessible PDFs.
Note that PDF forms may only be created and validated for accessibility in Adobe Acrobat Pro.