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Web Accessibility – What Are We Talking About?

Web Accessibility – a woman wearing ear piece for screen reader

Accessibility is what web developers and content producers riding the wave are talking about – or at least they should be. Your organization may be required by law to provide accessible web content. And even if it’s not, making your web content accessible is best for all: your audience and you.

An accessible web service is a website or any other web publication that can be easily accessed by everyone. In other words, for a web service to be accessible, you need to be able to use it effortlessly and comprehend its contents, whether you’re visually impaired, dyslexic, unable to use your hand, otherwise disabled, or the average Joe. The ultimate goal behind web accessibility is to offer equal opportunities to all in the digital world.

There has been talk about web accessibility for at least a decade or two. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) created the first Web Content Accessibility Guidelines back in 1999 and the latest version WCAG 2.1 was approved in 2018. These guidelines have been the basis for many regulations, including the EU directive published in October 2016. This means, that accessibility is already required by law in the EU and many other countries, and we can only assume more is to come.

Whether your organization is legally required to publish accessible content or not, you’ll be on the safe side knowing how to make your content accessible and welcoming to all visitors.

In this article, we’ll look at what web accessibility means for online publications – can you make PDF documents accessible, or should you consider new ways of publishing you content such as online magazines, guides and reports on the web.

Are PDF Publications Accessible?

Many web publications such as online magazines, online guides and online reports are carried out as PDF readers. For a PDF to be accessible, you need to be able to access it’s contents just the same as the contents of a regular web page. This means it has to be readable with different types of assistive technologies such as screen readers and magnifying software.

An accessible PDF follows the ISO 14289 -standard. Most of all an accessible PDF can’t be a scanned image of a text document, but it has to include content the assistive technologies can get access to. In practice this means the following.

Accessible PDF’s Should Have e.g.:

  • Text in readable form
  • Structures marked by tags (headings, paragraphs, lists, tables, forms, etc.)
  • Alternative texts for images
  • Visually clear appearance, such as sufficient contrasts and clean fonts
  • Certain document definitions, such as language and title.

How Do I Make Sure My Web Publications Are Accessible?

If you want to publish say your online magazine or the annual report as a PDF document, there are several tools you can utilize to achieve accessibility. You can make the required definitions to the document e.g. by using Microsoft Word, Adobe InDesign or Adobe Acrobat.

However, as we have earlier stated, online PDF readers are definitely not the most reader-friendly option for your digital audience. They contain challenges like insufficient navigation, poor responsiveness and the inability to share single articles or follow their reading rate. Web accessibility is yet another reason to rethink the format for web publishing.

If a magazine, guide or report is published as a website instead of a PDF, it will serve its readers in all the ways the web offers. In a website you won’t need to zoom the contents, and navigation will be easy and logical. You can also link articles and topics to each other as well as lift interesting items from the archives. The content will be more accessible per se.

Since you probably also have a website if not another, incorporating your publication to it or making another website, means you won’t need to learn new tricks on making it accessible. In practice, the requirements for accessibility are the same for a website as for a PDF published on the web.

Accessible Web Publications with makes it possible to create publications such as magazines, guides, reports and annuals easily on the web. What’s best, with our plugin you can effortlessly turn these web contents into press ready PDF files and send them for print if you wish.

To create articles for the web publication, you will use the WordPress Gutenberg editor in the same way you would for any WordPress article. In order for it to be accessible, it will need to have definitions stated above, such as:

  • alternative texts for images
  • adequate contrast between text and background
  • big enough font size
  • clear structure (navigation, headings, etc.)

Making the definitions takes place in the WordPress text editor and dashboard. To be clear, is not an accessibility plugin. But by making your web articles accessible as you go, the PDF created with will be accessible as well.