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Accessible Document Design Requirements

Accessible Document Design Requirements


An accessible document is designed to be easily readable by all users, including low vision or non-sighted readers, who may navigate through a document using screen reader software. Documents of various file formats (e.g., Word, PDF, HTML, etc.) can be proactively developed to make content accessible to assistive technology by applying a set of common principles.

Document Design Principles

  • Use defined heading styles to represent the structure of the document.
  • Use lists to structure information by bullets (unordered) or numbers (ordered).
  • Use meaningful hyperlinks that succinctly describe the web site.
  • Add alternate text to images to describe the content of a visual.
  • Identify document language in the properties menu.
  • Use tables wisely; define header rows and structure information in rows and columns with headers.
  • Ensure that font size is at least 11-you’re a good point and Sans Serif to facilitate readability.

Minimum Compliance

All elements of a document, including text, images, paragraphs, lists, tables, charts, and figures should be made accessible by manually applying design principles.


Accessible heading styles: Accessible table design:
Screenshot showing style menu in Microsoft Word
Click image to view larger version.
Screenshot showing accessibility options for tables in Microsoft Word
Click image to view larger version.

Document Design Tools

A document accessibility checker can help identify and repair many accessibility barriers.

A file converter tool can help make inaccessible documents more accessible by enhancing readability.


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