In today’s fast-paced business world, where information is exchanged every minute, it is important to ensure that everyone has access to it. Documents, especially PDFs, are a key source of information for many businesses, and they need to be accessible to all users, including those with disabilities. Accessibility of these documents can impact your business’s success, reach, and engagement with a wider audience.
Let us look at why document accessibility is important for businesses:
- Legal compliance: Many countries have laws that mandate businesses to make their documents accessible to people with disabilities. For example, in the United States, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires businesses to make their websites and digital documents accessible.
- Increased reach: By making documents accessible, businesses can reach a wider audience. This includes individuals with disabilities, but also those who prefer to consume information in different formats, such as audio or Braille.
- Improved user experience: Accessible documents are easier to navigate and understand for everyone, not just those with disabilities. This can lead to increased engagement and customer satisfaction.
- Social responsibility: Making documents accessible is not only a legal requirement but also a social responsibility. By ensuring that all individuals can access information, businesses are promoting inclusivity and diversity.
Here are eight common mistakes between an accessible pdf vs standard pdf that a business owner makes:
The readability of documents is essential for your business when sending out materials, such as contracts or marketing collateral. People with low contrast between text and background colors cannot read documents successfully. This limits the number of individuals accessing your documents, reducing potential reach and engagement with those materials.
Absence of Alt Texts
Alt text allows individuals, regardless of their ability, access a description of an image within a document, ensuring they receive information in the document. Without alt text, users cannot access images, becoming an obstacle to completing tasks or understanding concepts related to their job activities. Furthermore, businesses may lose customers if their documents do not adhere to WCAG 2.0’s guidelines for accessibility standards due to content being inaccessible to certain audiences.
Having documents without headings can significantly diminish the accessibility of a document for individuals who use assistive technology. Documents with headings provide a structure that allows users to identify and access important information easily. Without this structure, users may have difficulty understanding what information is included or where to find specific information.
Poorly marked or completely untagged PDFs can cause various issues that may inhibit user access to the document, including individuals with disabilities. Non-tagged PDFs often cannot be read by assistive technology like screen readers, meaning individuals with visual impairments may not be able to access information within the document as intended by you. Additionally, untagged PDFs can make navigation difficult for all users. Without proper tagging and formatting, the content will appear jumbled together with no sense of structure or organization.
Unmarked Data Tables
For documents to be properly accessible, all visual elements and data tables must be marked with labels and descriptions. Documents with inaccessible data tables can be a significant obstacle for people who cannot access the information without an assistive device or aid. This is because a screen reader cannot navigate through a document if it doesn’t receive any indication of the presence of a table without proper labeling and formatting.
Improper Navigation Links
Navigation links are integral to a document’s structure and play a key role in allowing users to access the information quickly. Poorly designed navigation links can create difficulties for users with disabilities to interpret what is being said, navigate through the material, and access important information. It leads to confusion among all readers, making it difficult for them to find relevant information about your business.
Illogical Sequence of Interactive Elements
An illogical sequence of interactive elements in a document can lead to difficulties in accessibility by disorganizing the content. This makes it difficult for readers to accurately understand and comprehend the information and find specific pieces of data when needed.
No Keyboard Accessibility
A lack of keyboard accessibility can cause issues for individuals with disabilities who rely on this type of access for document accessibility. Users with visual impairments cannot access your document with a mouse; so, they rely on a keyboard by using keyboard commands to navigate. Making it easy for such users to navigate your document is essential to reach a wider audience. For that to happen, ensure you include hyperlinks, media controls, and forms with proper structure so a keyboard user can easily access them.
Failure to make your documents accessible can result in lost opportunities, decreased productivity, legal issues, and damaged reputation. By ensuring that your documents are accessible to everyone, including individuals with disabilities, you can create a more inclusive and welcoming environment for all of your stakeholders. To achieve this, it is important to educate yourself and your team about accessibility requirements, utilize accessible document formats, and invest in the necessary tools and technologies to make your documents more accessible. By doing so, you can ensure that your business is not only compliant with accessibility laws but also committed to providing equal access to all.
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