Wherever possible we should publish content on a website page. It’s the best way to reach as many people as possible.
Whether you’re writing for the website or creating a document, the guidance on this page will help to make it accessible and usable.
Think about format
Documents like PDFs make content harder to find, use and maintain. It can also be difficult for users to customise them for ease of reading, and often they do not work very well with assistive technologies like screen readers.
Keep the language simple
Write in language that’s as simple as possible. Simple language makes your document accessible to people with cognitive impairments and learning disabilities. Research shows that everyone prefers simple language, including specialist audiences, because it allows them to understand information as quickly as possible.
Where you need to use technical terms, abbreviations or acronyms, explain what they mean the first time you use them.
Keep the document simple
- Give the document a meaningful title.
- Keep sentences and paragraphs short.
- Use sentence case. Avoid all caps text and only use oblique/italic in line with brand guidelines.
- Make sure the text is left aligned, not justified.
- Avoid underlining, except for links.
- Make sure any link text clearly describes where the link will go. It should also be understandable on its own, even if you read it out of context. This is important because some screen reader users scan through the links on a page one by one to find what they need.
- Documents with single, continuous columns of text are easier to make accessible than documents with a more complex layout.
- Only use tables for data. Keep tables simple: avoid splitting or merging cells.
- Do not use things like colour or shape alone to get across meaning. This is because instructions like ‘click the big green button’ rely on the user’s ability to see the page.
- If you’re using images or charts, think about how you’ll make the content accessible to people with a visual impairment. Two options are:
- make the same point in the text of the document (so people with visual impairments get the information they need – the image or chart is there as an extra for people who are able to see it)
- give the person converting or uploading the document for you alt text (‘alternative text’) for the image or chart
- It’s also best to avoid images containing text, as it’s not possible to resize the text in the image.
- Avoid footnotes where possible. Provide explanations inline instead.
Give the document a structure
Break up your document to make it more readable. Use bullet points, numbered steps and meaningful subheadings.
Do not use bold to mark up subheadings. Use styles to create a hierarchy of headings: ‘heading 1’, ‘heading 2’ and so on. Also use styles for things like tables and bullet lists. That way, a screen reader will recognise the formatting and read out the content correctly.
Application forms, complex documents and other office formats
If you’re creating another type of office document (for example a spreadsheet or presentation), there’s guidance on how to make it accessible on the Accessible Digital Office Document Project website.
Most application forms can now be built as online forms. Online forms are easier to create, maintain, are less prone to errors and are more environmentally friendly. If you need an online form please email [email protected].
If you’re creating a document with complex formatting, you can follow the instructions on making accessible PDFs in InDesign (PDF, 1.4MB).
Leeds Museums & Galleries strives to be an inclusive service.
As part of Leeds City Council we must legally comply with The Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) (No. 2) Accessibility Regulations 2018.
To comply with the regulations, documents posted online, including, but not limited to, Adobe PDF files, Microsoft Office documents and online flipbooks, must be screen-reader friendly. Screen-reader software is a form of assistive technology that reads a screen’s display aloud to the user. It can be especially useful for people who have visual or motor impairments. View screen-reader software in action.
External design (agencies)
Requests to external design agencies for material intended for public consumption as a download from our website must clearly stipulate that final designs and templates must be WCAG 2.1 level AA compliant.
All multimedia resources published online must be captioned. Captioned media displays the audio content of a program as text on-screen and synchronised with the dialogue of the speaker, and includes additional auditory information such as sound-effects. This provides accessibility for users who are deaf or hard-of-hearing, while also benefiting users with diverse learning abilities and whose primary language is not English.
Leeds Museums & Galleries are no longer posting to Issuu.com because documents on this website cannot be read by assistive technology and therefore are not accessible.
There are digital publishers similar to Issuu that offer screen-reader friendly flipbooks. If you want to publish an online flipbook it is important to note that digital publishing can be very expensive and will likely only be worth the investment for a high-profile piece that will be viewed online extensively.
Making existing online documents accessible
An accessible online document has an established reading order, as well as visual elements that are tagged with alternative text descriptions. For example, any visual element such as a photo, chart, or graph that is necessary for the understanding of the document must be tagged. The established reading order and alternative text descriptions are needed for assistive technology to comprehensively and accurately communicate the information to the reader.
Generally speaking, these are the options for making your document accessible:
- Put the information on the website (thereby converting it to Web Format/HTML)
- Tag a PDF of your document using Adobe Acrobat Pro
- Create an accessible version of Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, or Excel files
Double click the Application Catalogue shortcut on your desktop.
If your default browser is Google Chrome you will need to visit the Application Catalogue in Internet Explorer.
Single click the required font, then click the blue INSTALL button located in the bottom right area of the window. Depending on your device’s screen resolution you may need to scroll horizontally to reveal the blue button. Installation should take a few seconds.
Please note that this process can only be carried out on one font at a time.
Close and reopen any Microsoft Office or Adobe applications, then attempt to use the newly installed fonts in one of them.
The fonts I need are not in my application catalogue
Font licence distribution is managed by the Audience Development team. If you are new to your team or site it is possible that the required licences have not yet been allocated to you. Please email [email protected] to request licenses for the fonts you need.
I’ve installed the fonts I need but can’t use them
Close and reopen any open Microsoft Office or Adobe applications, then attempt to select the fonts again. If the fonts are still not available please reboot your device and attempt to select them again. If the fonts are still not available after rebooting please email [email protected].
GT Walsheim bold is not available after installation
Type ‘software center’ (sic) in to the Windows start menu, then open the Software Center. Once open, click the ‘Installed Software’ tab, uninstall GT-Walsheim-Fonts-2-0-R1, then reinstall it via the ‘Available Software’ tab. If GT Walsheim Bold is still not available after closing and reopening Microsoft Word, please email [email protected].