Accessibility laws apply to all forms of online content, including PDFs and documents.
You have a role in ensuring that everyone has equal access to information regardless of the format.
By making PDFs and documents accessible to people with disabilities, you’re making all digital content easier for everyone to access, understand and use.
- PDFs and documents are only accessible if you make them accessible. They are not accessible by default.
- PDF is intended for a printed page and not for screens.
- Do not use a PDF to present digital content that could be a web page.
- HTML is always the most accessible, mobile-friendly, easy-to-update, and user-friendly format.
- Making a non-accessible PDF into an accessible PDF, a process known as remediation is time-consuming and may be technically challenging.
- Many websites have a print to PDF feature
- Learn more about PDF usability issues, Nielsen Norman Group
What is an accessible document?
- Legible: A document that can be physically read by sighted readers including sight-impaired readers and readers with cognitive disabilities. For example, legible documents use font families and sizes that are easy to read with high contrast between the type and the background. Contrast and Color Accessibility, WebAIM
- Scannable: A reader must understand the information after a quick scan of the document. Writing for Web Accessibility, W3C
- Searchable: Words within the document can be searched for by a digital device used by the reader.
When Should I Use PDFs?
- Secure documents
- Downloadable documents and forms
- Print documents that need to keep formatting
- Documents that provide more detail
- Low usage documents (large documents, archives)
How do I create accessible PDFs and Documents?
State Agency Planning Resources
The IT Accessibility Planning Guide website is made available only to state agencies for the purpose of providing guidance, tools and updates that are relevant only to state agencies and their unique statutory requirements. The Technology Accessibility Program team (TAP) has made every effort to provide similar, relevant resources available to local government entities (see Local Government Resources).
Local Government Planning Resources
Accessibility Planning for Local Government, 2023 (Google Slides)
This presentation is designed to help local government teams understand their responsibilities and provide basic guidance for planning and operationalizing accessibility. Similar guidance can be found on the Accessibility Planning Core Criteria webpage.
- Colorado Laws for Persons with Disabilities
- Planning tools and guidance
- Links to more information and resources