Accessible Documents

Word documents, PDFs, and other documents shared online must also be accessible, using many of the same principles and concepts outlined on the Accessibility Basics page. The specific way to edit a document to ensure accessibility will depend on the program you are using.


Before posting a document online please take a moment to consider your audience and how to best disseminate the information. Generally, it is more difficult and time consuming to create an accessible document than it is to post accessible content within the CMS.

  • Could your information be presented on the webpage itself, or is it necessary for it to be in a document? The CMS allows you to make changes easily, editing text rather than replacing or deleting a document. Adding content directly in the CMS is also easier for users to read on a mobile device, as the design is responsive and therefore content fits automatically to different screen sizes without the need to zoom in or scroll.
  • If the audience group is small and/or requests for the information are infrequent, it may be preferable to send your document via another method (such as email) rather than posting it online.


Creating Documents


Accessible documents are more usable for everyone, not just people with disabilities, because accessible documents work better across all web browsers, computer systems, and mobile devices. In addition, accessible documents enable assistive technology software such as screen readers and magnifiers to be more effective. Ensuring that your documents are made in an accessible manner provides everyone with an equal opportunity to access information. 

Just like web accessibility, document accessibility can be achieved by addressing these issues:

  • applying styles for headings,
  • making content scannable with bullets or numbered lists,
  • including alternate text for images, graphics or charts,
  • descriptive hyperlinks
  • use of color and color contrast,
  • adding simple tables, and
  • verifying flow in Adobe Acrobat.


Reference the tutorials in the right hand menu to get help adding accessibility requirements in commonly used programs.For complex documents you may need to make additional fixes after the document is created, using programs such as Adobe Acrobat Pro for PDFs, or consult with an outside source to remediate the document.


Using ASD's Document Conversion Service

ASD offers a third-party Document Conversion Service to help faculty and staff produce alternative versions of documents quickly and easily. The service is available to anyone with an ASD issued P-Card, and can be accessed by contacting Web Communications.

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.
  • Turnaround time is 10-14 days.
  • 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 sidebar links for information on how to create accessible documents in various document formats.

Anchorage School District website accessibility and nondiscrimination notice. The Anchorage School District is an equal opportunity provider.