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When creating digital documents, there are a few basic issues to keep in mind in order to ensure your content is accessible. These issues are the same regardless of whether your document is in HTML, Word, PDF, or another document format. A good starting point for learning about accessibility is our IT Accessibility Checklist. The following items from the Checklist are especially applicable to digital documents:

  1. Do headings form an outline of the page content?
    For details, see our Headings page.
  2. Are lists used to identify all content that can be described as a list of something?
    For details, see our Lists page.
  3. Do form fields within web pages and documents have appropriately coded labels and prompts, and do they provide helpful, accessible error and verification messages?
    For details, see our Forms page.
  4. Do images have alternative text?
    For details, see our Images page.
  5. Are tables used solely for presenting rows and columns of data (not for layout), and are the column and row headers identified?
    For details, see our Tables page.
  6. Is the tab order and read order logical and intuitive?
    For details, see our Tab and Read Order page.
  7. Have you avoided using visual characteristics to communicate information (e.g., “click the circle on the right” or “required fields are in red”)?
    For details, see our Visual Characteristics page.
  8. Does the interface have sufficient contrast between text color and background color?
    For details, see our Color Contrast page.
  9. Are links and buttons used appropriately and labeled correctly?
    For details, see our Links page.
  10. Does the document have a title that describes its topic or purpose?
    For details, see our Titles page.
  11. Are mechanisms in place that allow users to bypass blocks of content (e.g., bookmarks in a PDF)?
    For details, see our Navigation page.
  12. Has the language of the document (or individual parts of a multilingual document) been defined?
    For details, see our Language page.

Additional resources

The following pages focus on issues that are unique to document accessibility:

UW Document Conversion Service

The UW offers an online Document Conversion Service to help students, faculty, and staff at the University of Washington to produce alternative versions of documents quickly and easily. The service is free to anyone with a UW NetID, and can be accessed at

Please note the following limitations of this service:

  • The source file needs to be of good quality in order to maximize conversion accuracy.
  • Some file outputs may require additional editing after conversion.
  • This service is intended to provide a quick temporary solution, but is not the final solution for accessibility. For faculty and staff who are producing documents, please consult the above links for information on how to create accessible documents in various document formats.
  • Students requesting alternate materials as an accommodation, please contact Disability Resources for Students (DRS).

UW-IT PDF Remediation Service

Accessible Technology Services (ATS) will remediate a limited number of PDF documents through a service supported by UW-IT. Individuals, departments, and other units at the UW are encouraged to apply to remediate highly visible, high-impact, multiple use, and/or strategic PDF documents. Examples include:

  • PDF documents available to the public on a high-use website
  • PDF documents that will be used multiple times in a course
  • PDF documents developed by several faculty members to be used in several different classes

If you are interested in submitting one or more documents for consideration, please complete the UW PDF Document Remediation Service Application.

Any UW faculty, staff, or student is eligible to apply for accessibility remediation of one or more PDFs as long as the PDFs are owned/authored by the UW. The highest priority is PDFs that have a high impact (as defined above).

Note: If PDF documents are required for students who have a documented print disability (e.g., students with specific learning disabilities or visual disabilities), please contact Disability Resources for Students (DRS). DRS provides free remediation services for individual student accommodations.

ATS is available to provide technical support or training to UW faculty and staff who wish to create accessible electronic documents and otherwise make IT accessible. See our Help page for details.

Outsourcing PDF Remediation

Crawford Technologies provides document remediation services at prices and turnaround times that seem to be a good match for higher education institutions. Contact the vendor for a quote:

Questions about remediation orders: