Accessibility and inclusion: Accessible document checklist

Web accessibility has always been a requirement for UMaine websites, and has been a regular feature in our monthly newsletter. Ensuring your content is accessible is part of an inclusive communication strategy.

If your website has documents such as PDF, Word, Excel or Powerpoint files for download and viewing, those files must also abide by web accessibility standards. Adobe Acrobat DC offers an accessibility checker, and through the University of Maine System you can subscribe to this software at a cost of $123 per year. If you subscribe to Adobe Creative Cloud, Adobe Acrobat DC is already included in that license.

The most straightforward way to ensure a PDF you create is accessible is to start with a document that has been created with accessibility in mind. For this reason we offer the following checklist that should help reduce problems with the documents you create.

Accessible document checklist

  • Use headings in descending order

  • Add descriptive text to images unless purely decorative

  • Check color contrast guidelines

  • Numbered lists for when content is in order

  • Bullet point list for unordered content

  • Tables and graphs are clearly labeled and all data is represented in writing as represented in-image

  • Links are clearly labeled

  • Add page numbers

  • Use sans serif fonts whenever possible (Calibri, Ariel, Helvetica,  Verdana); be consistent with font

  • Ensure the font-weight is heavy enough so that someone with low vision can read it

  • Name files clearly to indicate the purpose

  • Only use underline for links, not for emphasis

  • Tables: Table headers must be used/turned on. Tables can only be used for tabular data. Do not use it for formatting. Break up complex tables into separate simpler ones if needed, with a header row for each

  • Small text is at least in 14 pt font

  • Large text is at least in 18 pt font