Creating Accessible Documents

When creating content, there are a few basic steps that should be followed in order to assure your content is accessible. The core steps needed for accessibility are the same regardless of whether your document is in HTML, Microsoft Word, Adobe PDF, or another document format:

  • Use headings
  • Use lists
  • Add alternate text to images
  • Identify document language
  • Use tables wisely
  • Understand how to export from one format to another
To gain a better understanding of these core issues, see our Overview of accessible documents.

To apply each of these concepts to a particular document format or authoring workflow, select one of the following topics:

    • Creating accessible documents in Microsoft Word
    • Creating accessible PDFs from Microsoft Word
    • Creating accessible PDFs from Adobe InDesign
    • Fixing inaccessible PDFs using Adobe Acrobat Pro
    • Creating accessible PDF forms using Adobe Acrobat Pro

Creating High Quality Scanned Documents

Sometimes it is necessary to scan a document for an instructional need. When documents are in electronic form, they are easier to distribute and can be more accessible than print documents for students with disabilities. However, in order to be fully accessible, certain steps must be followed to be sure the scanned document is of high quality. Even if a document is not needed for a person with disability, a poor scan often negatively impacts the end user’s experience.
For details, see Creating High Quality Scans.

Using the UW Document Conversion Service

The UW now offers an online Document Conversion Service to help students, faculty, and staff at the University of Washington to produce alternative versions of documents quickly and easily. The service is free to anyone with a UW NetID, and can be accessed at

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.
  • 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 above links for information on how to create accessible documents in various document formats.
  • Students requesting alternate materials as an accommodation, please contact Disability Resources for Students.