Accessible Content

Making content accessible

The University of Washington, on all three campuses, provides a wide variety of tools to students, faculty, and staff for authoring electronic documents and web content. When authoring documents using Microsoft Office, Adobe InDesign, or creating any PDF, it’s important to follow a few basic steps to assure your document is readable by individuals with disabilities.


Electronic documents

The most common electronic document file types are PDF files (.pdf) and Microsoft Word files (.docx). The following content will guide through some basics in document accessibility:

To consider before you upload content

Before uploading any electronic document, consider:

  • Does the content need to be uploaded in this particular format?
  • Does it need to be a PDF?
  • Can the content be copied and pasted onto a regular webpage?

Webpages use Hyper Text Markup Language or HTML, the most accessible format for information on the web. After HTML or webpages, in terms of accessibility, MS Office documents are next, then PDF. The least accessible type of document is a PDF form.

It is best practice to have information on a webpage rather than within a Word document or PDF when possible. We are so used to creating PDFs that we usually do not deeply think about access and effectiveness when creating content.

If content needs to be shared as a PDF, some basic steps are required so it is accessible. One way involves saving the document properly, followed by checking accessibility in Acrobat Pro.

If the source editable file is not available, then it requires remediation (or making the PDF accessible in a PDF editing program) to ensure the information can be accessed by all users. This remediation can be done in-house using Adobe Acrobat Pro 2015, 2017 or CC or sending the file to a PDF Remediation 3rd Party vendor.

Document & Canvas Support

MS Office Documents, PDFs, Canvas Content

Training for how to create accessible MS Office documents or internally remediate PDFs is offered on a request basis to individuals or departments. For PDF remediation, Adobe Acrobat DC needs to be purchased by the department and installed by UW Bothell IT. For more information, please contact Ana Thompson in the Office of Digital Learning & Innovation (DLI).

PDF 3rd Party Remediation

Need an accessible PDF but lack the time or training? The UW vendor Vastec Inc., charges units about $9.23 per page (three page document = $27.69) to make documents accessible. This cost is for basic remediation and can increase based on the complexity of a document but the majority will fall into this price range. When considering this option, take into account the cost of employees training and remediation work for a more realistic cost comparison.

This vendor can be found in Ariba or you can contact them directly; email uwbadv@uw.edu for a direct contact with Vastec that the marketing team uses.


Web Content (Kentico)

To get help on creating and editing accessible web pages within the uwb.edu website, contact the Advancement & External Relation's Web Team. I

In terms of accessible web content requirements, University of Washington follows the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), version 2.0.