Creating accessible documents ensures everyone's equal access to the functionality and information contained within your document.

General Principles for Creating Accessible Documents

  • Use colour appropriately and provide sufficient contrast. Ensure that there is sufficient contrast between background and foreground colours. The contrast ratio between text and background colours should be 4.5 to 1 or greater. Do not use colour alone to convey meaning.

If your content contains interactive elements (e.g., forms), it is important that you use appropriate techniques alongside colour to convey meaning. Using the example of forms, instead of denoting required fields by using red text alone, you should use red text alongside an asterisk to indicate these required fields. Using multiple methods to convey information ensures that all of your users can perceive and understand meaning within your content. For more information on best practices surrounding the use of colour and contrast see BCcampus’ Colour Contrast chapter within their Accessibility Toolkit.

  • Write alt text for images contained within documents. Alt text is essential to convey meaning to those who are blind or visually impaired.

For more information on best practices surrounding the use of alt text check out WebAIM’s article on Alternative Text.

  • Create hyperlinks that are self-describing. Avoid embedding hyperlinks into short and vague phrases such as "click here." Instead, embed hyperlinks into meaningful self-describing phrases that can be easily understood by someone using a screen reader.
  • Design documents using headings. Using headings within your documents can be useful for individuals using assistive technology, as this software gives its users the ability to easily skip from heading to heading. Headings organize your documents and make them more accessible for your users.
  • Ensure that text is sufficiently clear and large. Choose text fonts that are clear and easy to read, such as sans serif fonts. Avoid using fonts simply for decorative purposes. Similarly, avoid using light fonts. Font size should be at least 12 point.

Resources for Creating Accessible Documents

Resources for creating accessible Word documents:

Resources for creating accessible PowerPoint presentations:

Resources for creating accessible Excel workbooks:

Resources for creating accessible PDFs: