Regardless of file format, it is important that its meaning can be understood with the use of a screen reader.

Electronic documents and forms are one of the most common ways of conveying and receiving information. In order for individuals with disabilities to have full access to UB’s programs and services, electronic documents must be accessible with the use of assistive technology and presented in a format that is clear and well-organized.

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General Design Principles

There are a few basic steps you can take to make your documents more easily understood by someone who is using assistive technology such as a screen reader, or for readers who benefit from visual clarity. 

Use headings with a built-in heading feature

In breaking up information into logical sections, use Heading 1 for the main heading, Heading 2 for the next level, and so on. This will enable a screen reader to detect how the document is organized.

Use lists using the numbering or bulleting tools available

The screen reader will inform the user that the content is organized through a list, allowing for better comprehension and navigation.

Add alternative text to images

Alternate text allows for a verbal description of an image through the screen reader.

Identify document language

Screen readers are multilingual, and can pick up text in various languages. Identifying the document language helps the screen reader read the document appropriately.

Use tables wisely

Use columns instead of tables to control document layout. If a table is being used to convey data, keep the table simple and use headers for columns. Consider presenting data in several simpler tables instead of a more complex one.

Understand how to export from one format to another

When converting a document from Microsoft Word to a PDF, do not print to the PDF. Use the "Save as PDF" feature instead.