How to Make Your Word Docs, Google Docs, and PDFs ADA Accessible

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Every business uses digital documents in one form or another. 

 

Some use Microsoft Word, others use Google Docs, but almost all use some form of PDFs.  

 

If you plan to use these digital tools for your business, you must make sure that they follow the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA makes sure that Americans with disabilities have access to all utilities and information.  

 

Not only does complying with the ADA make the lives of fellow Americans easier, but it also gives your business access to a wider client base.  

 

ADA makes sure that all digital documents are easily accessible for disabled Americans to read or listen to.  

 

In this post, we will outline what you need to do to ensure that all your documents are ADA compliant, as well as how Microsoft Word, Google Docs, and PDFs (typically refined in Adobe Acrobat) differ in their means of providing ADA accessibility.  

 

Microsoft Word  

 

Microsoft Word is one of the most used word processors in business today. Because of this, Microsoft has made making documents ADA accessible as painless as can be. Below is a quick checklist to see if your document complies with the ADA. 

 

Make sure your document does the following: 

 

  • Use headlines. Headlines will help organize your document and make it easier for someone to decipher information when listening to the text aloud.  

 

  • Use lists. Lists (like this one!) break down information into easily consumable bullet points. 

 

  • Use meaningful hyperlinks. Hyperlinks allow you to easily link relevant sources and information in your document without making it overly complicated for the reader.  

 

  • Add alternative text for images. Alternate text allows you to add meta information to images so people with vision impairments can understand the intent of your images.  

 

  • Identify document language. Is your document in English? Spanish? French? Make sure your document knows what language it is reading so that it can pronounce words correctly. 

 

  • Use tables wisely and effectively. Tables can be a great way to break down information effectively. Just make sure your tables read in a logical order and display your information correctly, otherwise, it will be impossible for Word to read it aloud. 

 

  • Use the Accessibility Checker. The Accessibility Checker is perhaps the best way to determine if the document is compliant as it will tell you directly if Word detects any accessibility issues. Simply go to the Review tab at the top of your Word document, then click “Check Accessibility” in the Accessibility section. A pop-up will appear on the side and let you know if Word detects any issues.  

A Microsoft Word Accessibility Checker.

Microsoft Word  

 

Microsoft Word is one of the most used word processors in business today. Because of this, Microsoft has made making documents ADA accessible as painless as can be. Below is a quick checklist to see if your document complies with the ADA. 

 

Make sure your document does the following: 

 

  • Use headlines. Headlines will help organize your document and make it easier for someone to decipher information when listening to the text aloud.  

 

  • Use lists. Lists (like this one!) break down information into easily consumable bullet points. 

 

  • Use meaningful hyperlinks. Hyperlinks allow you to easily link relevant sources and information in your document without making it overly complicated for the reader.  

 

  • Add alternative text for images. Alternate text allows you to add meta information to images so people with vision impairments can understand the intent of your images.  

 

  • Identify document language. Is your document in English? Spanish? French? Make sure your document knows what language it is reading so that it can pronounce words correctly. 

 

  • Use tables wisely and effectively. Tables can be a great way to break down information effectively. Just make sure your tables read in a logical order and display your information correctly, otherwise, it will be impossible for Word to read it aloud. 

 

  • Use the Accessibility Checker. The Accessibility Checker is perhaps the best way to determine if the document is compliant as it will tell you directly if Word detects any accessibility issues. Simply go to the Review tab at the top of your Word document, then click “Check Accessibility” in the Accessibility section. A pop-up will appear on the side and let you know if Word detects any issues.  

  

Google Docs

 

Google Docs can be somewhat less intuitive to check for ADA accessibility than Microsoft Word. Use these tips below to create a doc that is accessible to Americans with all varieties of disabilities.  

 

  • Add alternative text for images. Alternate text allows you to add meta information to images so people with vision impairments can understand the intent of your images.  

 

  • Use tables for data. Tables can be a great way to break down information effectively. Just make sure your tables read in a logical order and display your information correctly, otherwise, it will be impossible for Google Docs to read it aloud. 

 

  • Use comments and suggestions. Comments allow you to speak directly to your reader to advise them on any confusing areas of your document. Suggestions tell the reader (and Google Docs) how the document should be read to reduce confusion.  

 

  • Check for high color contrast. Increasing color contrast makes viewing images easier for those with vision impairments.  

 

  • Use informative link text. Link your sources directly in the text to make it as easy as possible for the reader to locate the source. 

 

  • Check text size and alignment. Make sure text is properly aligned and that headings are a larger font size than the main body of text.  

 

  • Use text to support formatting. Your text should be formatted in a concise and easy-to-follow manner. If you are having trouble reading it, so will Google Docs.  

 

  • Use numbered and bulleted lists. Lists that are numbered and bulleted are easy to follow and easy to read by Google Docs.  

 

PDFs 

 

PDFs are typically the final product that is produced by Microsoft Word documents or Google Docs. If your Word document or Google Doc is already ADA compliant, then your PDF will be ADA compliant as well. Here is a guide to check ADA compliance if you are not sure if your PDF is in line with the law.  

 

To check accessibility: 

 

  • Choose tools --> action wizard --> the action wizard toolset is displayed in the secondary toolbar. 

 

  • From the action list, click make accessible. 

 

  • Select the files that you want to apply the make accessible action to. 

 

  • Click start. 

 

  • Follow the prompts to complete the Make Accessible action. 

 

  • If you convert a word doc that is already compliant, it will remain compliant in pdf form 

 

  • You can add an “ADA compliant tag” to your newly converted PDF. This allows you to reorder, rename, modify, delete, and create tags for your pdf document. 

 

  • View the tags panel by selecting View --> Show/hide --> Navigation Panes --> Tags. This pane will display all the tags within the pdf, organized into a tree structure. 

 

  • Make any necessary changes in this tree structure. This allows you to easily add, create, or substitute any information.  

 

  • Use the Touch-Up Reading Order (TURO) Function to alter and add as many tags as you choose.  

 

  • TURO creates numbered boxes around your tags so you can easily see the order they are in. You can quickly add common PDF tags for ease of use. 

 

  • Tools --> Accessibility --> Open --> select Reading Order in the far-right pane --> Show Order Panel 

 

  • TURO allows you to add alternate text to images by clicking the image and adding Edit Alternative Text. 

 

  • Once you are finished, run an Accessibility Check. Select the Full Check option by going to Tools --> Accessibility --> Open --> select Full Check on the far right.  

 

ADA Accessibility Helps Everyone 

 

Many people have trouble seeing the benefit of complying with ADA Accessibility rules. It can seem a waste of time to make sure your content can be read aloud or that your images have alternative text descriptions.  

 

The truth is, making your content ADA compliant helps everyone. Not only does it make the lives of disabled Americans easier, but it also expands your potential client base, allowing you to maximize your profit.

 

In addition, ADA compliance rules make content easier to read for Americans without disabilities by keeping content organized and redundancy-free.  

 

If you are having trouble telling if your content is ADA compliant, reach out to Legend Web Works. Our content marketing team has the experience needed to audit your site content and make recommendations from first steps to ongoing remediation.