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Technology Accessibility

The Office of Technology Accessibility works closely with Information Technology and Information Security to make sure websites, applications, equipment and other technologies are accessible for all users. Additionally, Technology Accessibility provides guidance and assistance to faculty to make sure curricula and learning modules meet accessibility standards. 

Learn about Universal Design and Accessibility on the Teaching and Learning Technologies site.

Document Accessibility

Making sure documents are accessible is an important part of creating a welcoming inclusive campus for everyone. Accessibility needs to start with content creation to ensure that everyone has the same access and equal experience. This video series is designed to give faculty the skills to help improve document accessibility thus making it usable by all.

The document title is crucial for accessibility as it helps users understand the purpose and context of a document before they begin to read or interact with it. The title is typically the first thing that users see when they encounter a document, and it provides important information about the
content that follows.

To set a document title from the settings in Word, follow these steps:

  1. Open your document in Word.
  2. Click on the "File" tab at the top left corner of the screen.
  3. Select "Info" from the menu on the left-hand side.
  4. In the "Properties" section on the right-hand side, click on the "Title" field.
  5. Type in your desired title for the document.
  6. Hit "Enter" or click outside the field to save the changes.

    screenshot of the Info screen on a word document showing where to edit the title field

By setting a document title in the settings, you can ensure that the title appears consistently across different platforms and when the document is shared with others. It also makes it easier for you to identify and organize the document in your own files.

Headings in documents play a crucial role in accessibility, as they help users with disabilities, such as those who use screen readers, to navigate and understand the content of the document more easily. Headings provide a structure to the document and allow users to quickly jump to the sections that interest them. They also help screen readers to announce the topic of each section, making the content more comprehensible for users who are visually impaired. Additionally, properly formatted headings can also improve the overall usability of the document for all users, making it easier to read and understand.

Alt-text (alternative text) is a critical component of accessible documents as it provides a textual description of an image for users who are unable to view it. This includes users with visual impairments who use screen readers to access the content, as well as users with slow internet connections who may not be able to load the images in a timely manner. Alt-text helps screen readers to convey the information contained within an image to the user, which is essential for understanding the context and content of the document.

Moreover, alt-text also supports users who may have difficulty perceiving or interpreting images, such as those with cognitive or learning disabilities. In these cases, alt-text can provide a clear and concise description of an image that is easy to understand.

Alt-text for complex images can be challenging, as it requires accurately describing the content of the image in a concise manner. When describing complex images, it is important to focus on conveying the information that is most important and relevant to the content of the document.

For example, when describing a graph, the alt-text should highlight the main trend or patterns depicted in the graph, rather than providing a detailed description of every element. Similarly, when describing a chart, the alt-text should focus on the main src points and their relationship to each other.

It's also important to keep in mind that alt-text should not be too lengthy or overly detailed, as this can make it difficult for users with cognitive or learning disabilities to understand. Instead, the goal should be to provide a clear and concise description that accurately conveys the information contained in the image.

Links play a crucial role in document accessibility as they allow users to navigate between different sections or related information within the document, and between the document and other resources on the web. For users with disabilities, such as those who use screen readers, links can provide a valuable means of accessing information and exploring related content.

Well-designed links should be clear and descriptive, indicating the target of the link, so that users can understand the purpose and destination of the link without having to activate it. This is particularly important for users who are blind or have low vision, as they may rely on screen readers to provide an auditory description of the link.

Additionally, links should be easily recognizable and distinguishable from surrounding text, through their underlining or use of a different color. This makes it easier for all users to identify the links, and to understand the purpose and destination of the link.

Color contrast is an important aspect of document accessibility, as it ensures that text and other visual elements are clearly visible to users with visual impairments, including those with color blindness or low vision. Poor color contrast can make text difficult to read, and can also impact the overall usability of the document for all users.

By ensuring that there is sufficient color contrast between the text and the background, users with visual impairments can more easily distinguish the text, and the information it contains, which is essential for understanding the content of the document. This can greatly improve the accessibility of the document for these users, and make it easier for them to access and comprehend the information.

To ensure good color contrast, it is recommended to use a color contrast ratio of at least 4.5:1 for regular text, and 3:1 for large text (such as headings). Additionally, it is important to ensure that the color contrast remains consistent throughout the document, as this can help to make the content more usable for all users.

PDF Accessibility

PDF accessibility is crucial for ensuring that everyone, regardless of their abilities or disabilities, can access and consume the information contained in PDF documents. Inaccessible PDFs can present significant barriers for people with visual, auditory, or physical disabilities, such as those who are blind or have low vision, deaf or hard of hearing, or have mobility impairments. By making PDF documents accessible, the content can be presented in a format that can be easily read, navigated, and understood using assistive technologies like screen readers, magnifiers, or speech recognition software. This ensures that everyone has equal access to important information, including educational materials, presentations, legal documents, and more. 

Additionally, ensuring that PDFs are accessible can also help organizations comply with accessibility standards and regulations, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), and prevent legal repercussions. Therefore, PDF accessibility is not only important for individuals with disabilities, but it is also a necessary step for promoting inclusivity and compliance with accessibility regulations.

Saving a PDF from Word/PowerPoint the correct way will allow tags (document format) to be read correctly by assistive technology.  If you have a PDF documents that is missing tags you will need to go back to the original document and then follow the steps below:

On Windows:

  1. Go to File > Save as Adobe PDF
  2. Under the Save as Type dropdown select PDF (*.pdf)
  3. Select Options to ensure the following checkboxes are checked:
  4. Create bookmarks using: Headings
  5. Document Properties
  6. Document structure tags for accessibility
  7. Select OK to save options
  8. Select Save to save your word doc as a PDF

On Mac:

  1. Open the Word document that you want to save as a PDF.
  2. Click "File" in the top left corner of the screen.
  3. Select "Export" from the drop-down menu.
  4. In the Export window, select "PDF" as the format.
  5. Click on the "Options" button to customize your PDF settings.
  6. In the Options window, select the "Accessibility" category.
  7. Check the box next to "Document structure tags for accessibility." Select “Ok”
  8. Click "Save" to save the Word document as a PDF with accessibility features enabled.

*Print to PDF should be avoided as it will not create an accessible PDF. 

Tags are an essential aspect of PDF accessibility. PDFs are used by many people with disabilities, and tags help ensure that the document can be read and interacted with using assistive technologies such as screen readers, Braille displays, and keyboard navigation.

The purpose of tags in PDFs is to provide structure to the document, making it easier for assistive technologies to navigate and present the content to users. For example, tags can identify headings, paragraphs, lists, tables, and form fields, allowing screen readers to announce this information and make it easy for users to navigate the document.

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to use the "Touch Up Reading Order" tool in a tagless PDF in Adobe Acrobat Pro:

  1. Open the tagless PDF in Adobe Acrobat Pro.
  2. Click on the "Tools" menu, select "Accessibility" and then choose "Autotag Document"
  3. The "Autotag Document" tool will automatically detect and highlight elements in the PDF.
  4. Review the detected elements and adjust their order as necessary by clicking and dragging them in the "Tags" panel. You can also add new tags and remove tags if needed.
  5. Once you have finished adjusting the reading order, save the pdf.
  6. You can now use the "Tags" panel to navigate the document and check the structure.

Note: The "Autotag Document" tool is not always 100% accurate and may require manual adjustments. It is recommended to review the tags and structure of the document to ensure that it is correct and accessible.

The reading order in a PDF is an important aspect to consider for accessibility. The reading order determines the sequence in which the content in the PDF is read by assistive technologies, such as screen readers. If the reading order is not set correctly, the content can be read out of order or not at all, making it difficult or impossible for visually impaired users to understand the information presented in the PDF.

In addition to accessibility, the reading order can also affect the user experience for all users, as the content may be displayed in a different order than expected, or sections may be skipped over.

To ensure that the content in a PDF is accessible and presented in the correct order, it is important to set the reading order correctly. This can typically be done in the software used to create the PDF. In Adobe Acrobat, for example, you can set the reading order by selecting the "Reading Order" tool, which allows you to set the order in which text and images are read, and to specify which elements should be ignored.

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to check the reading order in the "Tags" panel in Adobe Acrobat Pro:

  1. Open the tagged PDF in Adobe Acrobat Pro.
  2. Click on the "View" menu, select "Show/Hide" and then choose "Navigation Panes." From the Navigation Panes, select "Tags."
  3. In the "Tags" panel, you can see a hierarchical view of the tags in the PDF. The order of the tags determines the reading order of the document.
  4. To see the content of a tag, click on the tag in the "Tags" panel. The corresponding content in the PDF will be highlighted.
  5. To change the reading order of the document, click and drag the tags in the "Tags" panel to rearrange them.
  6. Repeat this process to ensure that the reading order of the document is correct.

Note: The "Tags" panel also includes information on the type of tag, its properties, and its accessibility status. You can use this information to further improve the accessibility of the document.

Questions about Accessibility?

If you have any questions regarding Accessibility you can reach out to our Technology Accessibility Specialist Tyler Swett at

ADA Compliance

University of Kansas Medical Center
ADA Compliance Office
3901 Rainbow Boulevard
Mailstop 7004
Kansas City, KS 66160
Phone: 913-574-2842
Fax: 913-588-1224