Accessible Digital Documents
This resource provides information about common office documents and accessibility. It was developed as a supplement to our Accessible Web Design page when we realized that much (if not most) of what gets posted on the web either starts out as a simple document, created by a word processor or other office suite product, and is then converted into a web page, PDF or other web-based resource. Often in this conversion process, accessibility is not taken into consideration and the final result is a web document that cannot be used by all. This is particularly problematic in large organizations where there are many content producers. It is important for content producers – especially those creating content that will be sent out to the public – to ensure their document are accessible to all.
To this end, we have created this resource which provides information and resources to help you create accessible documents.
Table of Contents
- General Resources.
- PDF Conversion Tools.
- Accessible Web Resources.
- Video Captioning.
- More Captioning Resources.
- E-Mail and E-Newsletters.
inclusive Makers Summit – University of Maine Farmington – Sept 2021
Webinar: Accessible Digital Documents – Introduction – Aug, 2019 –
Maine Dept of Education – July/Aug 2019
- Handout on Accessible Digital Documents – Part 1 – MS-Word
- Handout on Accessible Digital Documents – Part 2 – MS-Word
Maine OIT – Lunch and Learn
AT3 Webinar on Accessible Podcasts and Video
UMF Assistive Technology Summit
Connecticut – Achievement Through Assistive Technology Conference
Recent webinars from Maine CITE and Maine AEM Programs
- Making PDFs into Accessible Educational Materials.
- Making Podcasts and Videos into Accessible Educational Materials.
The following list of on-line resources was developed with assistance from all of my good friends on the WebAIM Web Accessibility Listserv. Thank you!
E-Pub the three-part “Reading for All” series. The AEM Center’s Luis Perez and Bookshare’s Christine Jones will guide you through the “why, where, and how” of using accessible EPUB as a flexible reading format for all learners. EPUB format is a highly accessible digital format that is increasingly becoming the go-to format for “portable” digital documents that can be read with handheld digital devices.
- Reading for All, Part 1: Getting to Know EPUB
- Reading for All, Part 2: Finding and Using High-Quality EPUB
- Reading for All, Part 3: Creating Accessible Content with EPUB
Telework and Accessibility – a new resource developed by the Partnership on Employment & Accessible Technology (PEAT) in conjunction with the International Association of Accessibility Professionals (IAAP), this page lists numerous links to help businesses and organizations ensure their remote work environments are accessible
Truths about digital accessibility – An article by Eric Bailey describing many “truths” about accessibility, how people with disabilities use and access digital content and assistive technologies. A very well written article, Bailey dispels myths, provides incite and explains fully what is happening in the real world when folks access you digital content. This should be required reading for anyone who does this work.
Make your Google Docs More Accessible – An article written by Diana Benner from the Texas Computer Education Association which explains to educators that there are “many things we can do to make our Google Docs more accessible to our students.” The article cites specific steps and directions (including screen shots) on how to adding accessibility functionality and discusses international accessibility standards.
WebAIM: Word and PowerPoint Accessibility Evaluation Checklist – The following checklist uses the Accessibility Checker in Microsoft Office 2016 and newer. Link to additional Word and PowerPoint articles are available on this website for more information on using the checker and creating accessible electronic documents.
The National Center on Disabilities and Access to Education – Goals Project has developed a new set of resources, or “cheat sheets” to help assist individuals in the quest to create accessible content. GOALS currently has cheat sheets available, addressing the following topics:
- Creating accessible documents in Microsoft Word.
- Microsoft PowerPoint.
- PDF conversion in Microsoft Word.
- Creating accessible PDF documents in Acrobat X.
View the cheat sheets – include Microsoft, Adobe and YouTube products…
Creating accessible Word documents, published by Microsoft is an extensive resource designed to assist users in making MS-Office documents accessible.
Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Accessibility Resource Roundup, links to resources on ICT accessibility that address many different aspects of the topic. Each has a brief description that captures some of the highlights that you will find in the website that the link points to.
Create Accessible Electronic Documents published by Section508.gov is a list of downloadable articles that describe methods for creating accessible digital documents using a variety of office products.
Information Technology for Minnesota Government has posted resources on accessible digital documents.
Creating Accessible Documents – University of Washington.
Document Accessibility Course from WebAIM. New (fee-based, scholarships available) courses start every month.
Creating Accessible Documents in Microsoft Word – Syracuse University.
Creating Accessible Documents – Case Western Reserve University
Keyboard Shortcuts – MS-Office
The following are a set of support documents from Microsoft.
Many individuals navigate on their computers without a mouse or pointing device. This may be done with a traditional keyboard, a modified or specialized keyboard or through a combination of switches. Here are some resources listing the keyboard combinations to activate various features or navigate through digital documents created in one of the applications in MS-Office:
- Keyboard shortcuts for Microsoft Outlook – from Microsoft.
- Keyboard shortcuts for Microsoft Word.
- Keyboard shortcuts for Microsoft PowerPoint.
- Keyboard shortcuts for Microsoft Excel.
See also the Microsoft Disability Answer Desk is customers with disabilities get support with Microsoft Office, Xbox Accessibility, and Windows. This includes product issues, accessibility questions and use of Assistive technology.
PDF Conversion tools/services
Below we have pulled together list of some “tools and services” that can assist in this process of converting PDFs to accessible digital documents. Thanks to Jiatyan Chen of Stanford University, Damian Sian of Princeton University and Tristan Price of Mt. Hood Community College who generated the initial list. Thank you to Krista Greear at Inclusive Instructional Design and Terrill Thomas for some recommendations (revised 8/15/2019). No endorsement of any of these products implied.
Also worth reading…
- PDF accessibility remediation software tools: A detailed comparison – Commonlook.com
- PDF Accessibility Tools & Resources Roundup – Digital A11Y
- Avoid PDF for On-Screen Reading – by the Neilsen Norman Group
Open Access Technologies – This remediation service is delivered via the internet. They take example documents from clients, perform compliance analysis against the WCAG 2 and PDF/UA standards, and re-mediate the files to meet those standards. Clients will able to submit similar PDF documents in bulk to the service, which will make them accessible and return them to the client.
SensusAccess – is a self-service, alternate media solution for educational institutions. SensusAccess allows students, faculty, staff and alumni to automatically convert documents into a range of alternate media including audio books (MP3 and DAISY), e-books (EPUB, EPUB3 and Mobi) and digital Braille. The service can also be used to convert inaccessible documents such as image-only PDF files, JPG pictures and Microsoft PowerPoint presentations into more accessible and less tricky formats.
CommonLook – NetCentric Technologies, a global leader in document accessibility, provides software products and professional services enabling faster, more cost-efficient, and more reliable processes for achieving compliance with the leading PDF and document accessibility standards, including WCAG, PDF/UA, and Section 508. CommonLook software makes the creation, remediation, and management of accessible PDF and Microsoft Office documents easier than ever before.
247 Accessible Documents – On-demand Accessible Documents – Upload a Document and receive an Accessible PDF, Accessible Word Document or an Accessible PowerPoint that meets Accessibility Standards & Guidelines 2.0 in 5 days.
inclüd – Accessible content conversion, creation, and consulting services, inclüd provides institutions with a path to accessible information, ensuring that those with exceptional needs can access content tailor made for them.
Equidox – is an automated solution that simplifies the process of discovering, converting, and publishing PDF documents to WCAG 2.0 compliant HTML.
BrailleWorks – is a solution for repair or remediation of your documents so organizations can meet WCAG and 508 compliance standards. WCAG and Section 508 document compliance can be difficult and navigating these waters is not a job for the inexperienced. Elements of a document such as paragraph structure, tables, charts, lists etc, need to be properly organized and tagged to provide true accessibility.
T-Base Communications – takes one digital file and converts it into every accessible format you need: braille, large print, audio or accessible PDF. Guided automation and QA by our subject matter experts ensures a high-quality end product, consistently.
Microassist – creates, delivers, and hosts custom training for our clients’ internal and external learners with a special emphasis in usability and accessibility.
PubCom – has been developing accessible materials since the mid-1990s, before the US Sec. 508 amendment was passed and put into effect in 2000. They offer a suite of services from custom designed accessible templates to an audit of public-facing documents.
RoboBraille – is accessible 24/7 as a self-service solution and is available free of charge to individual, non-commercial user not affiliated with an institutional setting obligated to provide support (academic institution, organisation, association or similar). Users need not register in order to use the service. The objective is to support and promote self-sufficiency of people with special needs socially, throughout the educational system and on the labour market. As an additional benefit, RoboBraille helps to protect the privacy of of those who need material in alternate formats.
AbleDocs, Inc – makes document accessibility fast, easy, secure, and cost-effective. With best-in-class technology and deep category expertise, Abledocs offers solutions that are compliant every single time.
Accessibility Insights (Microsoft) – When teams first use Accessibility Insights, they sometimes see failures that aren’t immediately clear whether they’re false positives or legitimate accessibility issues. In most cases, investigation has revealed that Accessibility Insights has identified a legitimate accessibility issue. In the few cases where an actual false positive has been discovered, the Accessibility Insights team has quickly fixed it and deployed an update.
Center for Inclusive Design and Innovation (CIDI) – is committed to the promotion of technological innovation and the development of user-centered research, products, and services for individuals with disabilities. As a research and service center within Georgia Tech’s College of Design, we address unmet needs in higher education, government, non-profits, and corporations by providing accessible and inclusive environments for all.
Open Access Technologies (OAT) – is dedicated to helping organizations build fully accessible and usable digital document libraries. OAT’s suite of robust document accessibility tools helps organizations convert and remediate PDF, ePub, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents to better serve their customers and comply with mandated accessibility standards, including WCAG 2.1, PDF/UA and Section 508.
Adobe Acrobat Pro DC – The defacto PDF conversion tool. Includes an Accessibilty Checker to assess your PDF files.
axaio MadeToTag – is an Adobe InDesign CS6 to CC plug-in to properly prepare InDesign documents for export as accessible, tagged PDF file – much more easier, faster and more reliable. The tagged PDF complies with the terms of the PDF/UA-Standard, the international standard for universally accessible PDF. PDF/UA is important to all organizations and companies delivering documents which have to be conform to regulations requiring accessible electronic content including WCAG 2.0, Section 508 in the US.
CommonLook Validator – is a 100% Free and Complete Tool for Testing Document Accessibility. The PDF Validator combines CommonLooks’s proven PDF technology and feature set into the perfect tool for testing and validating documents against the leading accessibility standards.
Grackle Docs – is a cloud-based service that can convert Google Doc, Sheet, PDF and Slide into an accessible PDF. Used with Grackle’s Accessibility Checkers, Grackle Docs brings compliance, remediation and version control under one roof.
PDF Accessibility Training
Microsoft PDF Accessibility Training YouTube Videos – This PDF Accessibility training series was provided to Microsoft employees on creating accessible PDF documents. Use these videos, along with documentation from Adobe Accessibility to learn to create, remediate, and check for accessibility issues.
Accessible Web Development Resources
Please see listing of resources on our Accessible Web Design page…
TOOLS AND RESOURCES – PODCASTS
- Podcasts and accessibility: an introduction from the University of Montana
- Captions and Transcripts and Audio Descriptions, Oh My!
- Semi-automated podcast transcription.
- Do It Yourself Transcripts and Captions.
- Diverse and Accessible Podcasts.
- Scribie – Free Podcast Transcription – Note: long waiting list.
- 10 Essential Tools to Record, Edit, Transcribe and Share Podcasts.
- Sonix for Podcasters.
- The Importance of Including Transcripts with your Podcasts. And a swift solution.
RESOURCES AND TOOLS – VIDEO CAPTIONING
- Captioning Video – Maine CITE
- Captioning Live Content – Maine CITE
- WebAIM – Captions, Transcripts, and Audio Descriptions.
- Described and Captioned Media Program
- Captioning Your Own Video for Free.
- NCDAE – Captioning YouTube Videos.
- YouTube – Add your own subtitles & closed captions. NOTE: This will be the most up-to-date resource on this topic.
- Zoom – Getting Started With Closed Captioning.
- Brightspace (D2L)
- Canvas LMS.
- BlackBoard LMS.
- Microsoft – Add subtitles or captions to a video in Office 365 Video.
- Captioning video on Facebook
RESOURCES – DESCRIPTION
- Audio Description of Visual Information – W3C
- Audio Description Project – List of AD providers
- Audio description, caption, and transcript resources – Indiana University
- 3 Play Media.
- AST Caption Synch.
- Audio Description Project – American Council of the Blind.
- How JW Player Approaches Video Player Accessibility – 3Play Media
- Audio Description Associates – Joel Snyder.
- 508 Accessible Videos – How to Make Audio Descriptions.
- Audio Description from Perkins Learning.
- Audio Description Resource Guide – National Library Service.
- Audio Descriptions – At a Glance – YouTube video from Microsoft
- Audio Eyes – vendor
- Caption Max – vendor
- Mind’s Eye – vendor
- WGBH Media Access Group – vendor
The following is an amended list of captioning service providers (last updated in June 2021) from the Maine.gov Bureau of Rehabilitation Services (BRS) and details resources close to Maine.
BUSINESSES PROVIDING CLOSED CAPTIONING SERVICES
Automatic Sync Technologies
Web site: automaticsync.com
ASC – Alternative Communication Services
Web site: acscaptions.com/
226 West 26th Street
New York, NY 10001
3 Play Media
Boston, MA 02210
Web site: 3playmedia.com
Karasch & Associates
West Chester, PA 19382
(619) 696-2008 (FAX)
Closed Caption Maker
Harrisburg, PA 17104
Website: Closed Caption Maker
Provo, UT 84601
(801) 370-9878 (V)
Richardson, TX 75083
Video Caption Corporation
Stanfordville, New York 12581
Video Production Services
North Monmouth, ME 04265
Website: Video Production Services
Frameweld/National Captioning Institute
Recap’d Captioning Service
Long Island City, NY 11101
Portland, OR 97205
Web site: lnscaptioning.com
CART – Captioning-COMMUNICATION ACCESS REALTIME TRANSLATION
CART captioning is a word-for-word, speech-to-text translation service, using closed-captioning technology, for people who need visual communication access. Unlike computerized note-taking or abbreviation systems, which summarize information for consumers, CART captioning provides a complete translation of all spoken words, which allows consumers to decide for themselves what information is important to them. CART captioning consumers include people with hearing loss, individuals with cognitive or motor challenges, people who wish to improve reading/language skills and those with other communication barriers. A CART captionist uses a steno machine, real-time software and laptop computer to render instant speech-to-text translation on a computer monitor or other display to benefit an individual consumer or a larger group in any number of settings: classrooms; business, government and educational functions; courtrooms, hospitals, religious, civic, cultural, recreation or entertainment events; telephone conferences or on-line webinars. Text files are available. Services may be performed on-site or from a remote location via the Internet.
Shari Majeski, CCP, CBC
Website: Caption Logic
HIS Sign, LLC
1-877-886-8879 (Toll Free)
Website: HIS Sign, LLC
Karasch & Associates
1646 West Chester Pike, Suite 4
West Chester, PA 19382
(619) 696-2008 (FAX)
Contact: Joe Alberici, Client Relationship Manager
Maine CART & Captioning Service
207-242-9378 (V & Text)
Website: Maine CART & Captioning Service
Maine CART Facebook
Jennifer M. Rodrigues
P.O. Box 20278
Castro Valley, CA 94546
(510) 888-9825 (V)
Dayette J. Zampolin, RMR, CRR, CCP
697 Jug Tavern Road
Downsville, NY 13755
(607) 363-7808 (V)
For more information on captioning and captioning service vendors, see the website for Captioned Media Program.
Accessible E-mail and E-Newsletters
The following information comes from the ITACCESS listserv from Educause. The list of e-mail and e-newsletter accessibility resources was developed by Sandi Arendalkowski, Accessibility & User Experience Designer, UW-Madison. Thank you, Sandi!
- The Ultimate Guide to Accessible Emails – Jaina Mistry, Litmus.com.
- Basic requirements for accessible email campaigns – Campaign Monitor.
- Accessibility in Email Marketing – Mail Chimp.
Revised and updated: 10/05/2021