Universal design in document production – accessibility comes first

Aug 23, 2020 | Articles

The launch of the next phase of the EU web accessibility directive scheduled for 23 September 2020 is fast approaching. That means it is more important than ever to ensure that all documents which are uploaded or sent are fully accessible and in compliance with the WCAG 2.1 guidelines.

There are many ways to manage the transition to accessible documents. One of them is to manually enter the necessary information for each document. That quickly becomes burdensome and makes the document production process longer and harder than it has to be. It also means that all your employees need to be trained in how to create accessible documents that do not neglect any of the numerous guidelines.

Universal design – from architecture to Internet

No one wants greater risk of error than necessary, long training periods or complicated work processes. It is a good idea, therefore, to think about how you can incorporate universal design in your document production.

Universal design started as an architectonic concept, wherein accessibility was pivotal in the design. By centring your plan on accessibility, you avoid burdensome duplicate effort when adding disability-friendly solutions after a completed building project.

In recent years, universal design has spread to multiple areas – including the digital world. Universal design on websites works in the same way as in architecture. A website is built in the same way as a physical building – with accessibility as a cornerstone.

Accessibility through and through – even in documents

Universal design builds upon seven general principles, which can be applied directly to web development and document production. These principles cover, for instance, equal opportunity for all to participate, no matter how they interact with the world. The design should also be flexible. In a building, this means there is access to another floor by way of both steps and ramps. On a website it means, for example, that a video has both sound and captions. There is also focus on the design being simple and intuitive, and on security features being built into the original design.

When it comes to documents, it may seem obvious how to ensure accessibility based on WCAG 2.1. Yet it becomes a tiring and time-consuming process verging on impossible if everyone in an organisation makes their documents accessible manually every time. That is why it is important to incorporate accessibility in the document’s foundation, in order to get off to a good start.

Universal design in templates

It is possible to ensure accessibility automatically in document production and circumvent manual processes entirely. An intelligent template solution that creates accessible templates effectively minimises repetitive work and creates both better and faster work processes in your organisation.

By pre-tagging content in document templates, you can create a fully accessible document containing all the necessary information in a single click. From sender and recipient, to contact information, logos and signatures – all with the image descriptions, document titles and proper typographies needed to make a document accessible.

A template solution like DynamicTemplate ensures that all staff can create uniform, correct and fully accessible documents that are free of errors and omissions – every time.

Accessible documents should be prioritised in every modern organisation. Whether it is done by manually reviewing each and every document or by using an intelligent template solution is of lesser importance. But in a digital age focused on creating accessible information for as many people as possible, regardless of software, language, location, or handicap – making one’s website and documents accessible is essential.

Nearly everyone has access to the Internet, but not everyone can use it effectively. That is why universal design is more important than ever.

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