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Creating Accessible Documents

Accessibility guidelines and rules apply to all documents—even those that are only meant to be printed and distributed. 

Why?

  1. Because disabled individuals may have difficulty reading and/or understanding your printed document.
  2. Because many printed documents are eventually uploaded and linked to a webpage or emailed to another person or organization. Doing so transforms your printed document into an electronic/digital version. 

Types of documents: 

  • forms
  • letters
  • memos
  • transactional documents (forms, contracts)
  • financial reports
  • meeting minutes and agendas
  • presentations
  • press releases
  • instructions and documentation

Software used to create documents:

  • Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, Access, PowerPoint, etc.)
  • Google (Docs, Slides, Sheets, Forms)
  • Adobe (PDF, InDesign)
  • Mac (Pages, Keynote)

Guidelines

The Basic Accessibility Guidelines apply to all documents, regardless of the type of document or the software being used. 

After you understand the basic guidelines, you will need to learn how to accomplish them using the various kinds of software. See: Accessibility Training for help. 

Uploading Documents to the FIT Website

FIT web content guidelines allow only certain kinds of documents to be uploaded and linked from the FIT website. You can use our helper to determine whether your document should be uploaded or whether you should put the content of the document on a webpage.

» Document Decision Helper

Special Cases

Sometimes it is necessary to scan a document to make it available electronically. To be fully accessible, you must take certain steps to insure the scanned document is of high quality. Even if a document is not needed for a person with disability, a poor scan often negatively impacts the end user’s experience.

High Quality Scanned Documents

A high quality scanned document is easy for everyone to read, including people with low vision or who use screen readers. High quality scans should not have:

  • text that is cut off
  • crooked pages
  • dark shadows on the margins
  • poor contrast
  • blurred text
  • pages that are rotated 90 or 180 degrees
  • handwriting, highlighting, underlining, stains, or other marks
  • excessive use of script or italic fonts

Scanner Settings

Be sure the DPI (dots per inch) is set to a minimum of 300 dpi. Documents scanned at a lower resolution will not be recognized by conversion software. Scanning documents at 600 dpi might be necessary for certain STEM content or other highly formatted documents.

Scan the document in black/white or 24-bit color depending on (a) whether the color of the original is important, and (b) whether your choice of color will have an effect on contrast.

Make sure the scanner is using Optical Character Recognition (OCR). OCR insures that your document contains text that can be searched, copied, and pasted. This option may be indicated as "saving a document as a Searchable PDF." DO NOT scan a document as a jpg or other image file!

Scanning Process

If you are scanning a book with a spine, push the spine down flat to insure that all the text is copied in a clear manner. Consider removing the binding if the gutter is small or tightly bound. This allows for high speed scanning and a higher quality scan.

Don’t combine pages. Each page should be a separate scan. 

When possible, your form should appear in an online format, such as Google Forms. PDF forms are difficult to make accessible. 

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