Creating Accessible Business Documents: What You Need To Know

20th July 2023

The creation of accessible business documents has become increasingly popular in today’s technology-driven world. As more and more interactions move online, the ability for everyone to access, understand, and engage with your digital content becomes a vital aspect of your business’s success. At its core, document accessibility is about ensuring that your content can be understood by as many people as possible, including those with disabilities. This can involve things like providing alternative text descriptions for images or making sure documents are easy to navigate. Today we’ll delve deeper into the world of digital accessibility, providing you with a few great strategies to create accessible business documents.

Understand Benefits Of Document Accessibility

Accessible business documents offer many benefits that you can take advantage of. Firstly, they widen your audience reach, as they are usable by everyone. This broader reach can lead to increased customer engagement, brand loyalty, and ultimately, business growth. Secondly, accessible documents can improve your business’s reputation. They show that your business values inclusivity and diversity, and is committed to providing equal access to information and services. Lastly, document accessibility helps to ensure legal compliance. In many regions, businesses are legally required to provide accessible documents, and non-compliance can result in considerable fines or legal action.

Seek Expert Advice

One of the best ways to ensure document accessibility is to work with a digital accessibility provider. These providers specialize in making digital content more accessible and can provide expert guidance on creating accessible business documents. For example, you can request the help of AbleDocs, who can conduct an accessibility audit of your existing documents, identify areas for improvement, and provide training for your team. As a result, you will have accessible PDF documents that you can share with everyone in your organization. AbleDocs can also help ensure that your accessible PDF documents are compliant with legal accessibility requirements. Also, you can get access to their education tools and software solutions that will allow you to maximize your digital document management efforts.

Develop A Universal Design Approach

When creating accessible documents, it’s beneficial to adopt a universal design approach. Universal design means designing products, environments, and systems to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design. This approach extends beyond simply meeting accessibility standards, as it aims to create a seamless user experience for everyone. In the context of document creation, universal design could involve strategies such as presenting information in multiple formats, including text, audio, and visual, using clear and simple language, and maintaining a consistent layout throughout your documents.

Embrace Technology

As the business landscape grows increasingly digital, leveraging technology can significantly enhance your efforts towards creating accessible documents. From advanced word processors with built-in accessibility checkers to sophisticated AI-powered tools that can automatically generate alt text for images, technology has made it easier than ever to create accessible documents. However, it’s important to remember that technology is a tool, not a solution in itself. It should be used to augment, not replace your accessibility efforts. While these tools can greatly assist in identifying and rectifying accessibility issues, they should be complemented with manual checks, user testing, and an organization-wide commitment to accessibility.

Test Your Documents

Testing your business documents for accessibility is a key step in the process. After all, you won’t know if your documents are truly accessible unless they are tested by individuals who use assistive technologies. You can perform some basic tests in-house, like checking if the document can be navigated using only a keyboard, or if images have appropriate alt text. However, for a comprehensive evaluation, consider working with individuals who use assistive technologies.

Train Your Team

Creating accessible business documents is a team effort. Everyone involved in creating, editing, or distributing documents should understand the basics of document accessibility. Therefore, you may want to consider using a variety of training tactics and holding training sessions. These sessions should cover the importance of accessibility, practical tips for creating accessible documents, and how to test documents for accessibility. In addition, holding refresher courses or advanced training sessions can help your team stay updated on the latest best practices in accessibility. Regular training can ensure that accessibility becomes an ingrained part of your business culture.

Incorporate Automation

Automation has become a game-changer in many business operations, and document accessibility is no exception. Today, several tools can automatically check your documents for accessibility issues, such as insufficient color contrast. While automation can greatly enhance your document accessibility efforts, it’s important to remember that it should complement, not replace, manual efforts. Automation tools can sometimes miss issues that humans can spot, so it’s still important to manually check your documents and conduct user testing. This combination ensures a comprehensive assessment of your document’s accessibility and aids in creating a truly inclusive digital experience.

Consider Inclusivity

In the context of document accessibility, inclusivity means removing barriers and ensuring equal opportunities for everyone to engage with your content. However, inclusivity in document accessibility isn’t just about meeting the minimum requirements of accessibility standards. It’s about going a step further to understand the unique experiences of your users and striving to make your content not just accessible, but also easy and enjoyable to engage with. This might involve things like conducting user testing with a diverse group of individuals, actively seeking and responding to feedback from your users, or finding new ways to present your content that cater to a wider range of preferences and abilities.

Keep Accessibility In Mind For The Future

Lastly, as your business evolves and new technologies emerge, it’s important to keep accessibility in mind. When implementing new technologies, consider their impact on document accessibility. For example, if you’re considering a new content management system, check if it supports the creation of accessible documents. Keeping accessibility in mind when making business decisions can help ensure that your documents remain accessible in the future.

Creating accessible business documents is a crucial part of running a modern, inclusive business. By following these tips and strategies, you can ensure that your documents are accessible to all, thus driving business growth.