As with web pages we also have a responsibility to provide accessible documents. Generally, our advice is that web pages should be used as the primary way for publishing information online. This has many benefits: 

  • Accessibility: The template and content types on the College website meet AA accessibility standards, so it is much easier to create accessible content. As long as you follow our advice on headingslinks and images
  • Responsive design: The College website template displays on different screen sizes – from phones to large display screens. 
  • Usability: College web pages generally offer a better user experience as opposed to forcing them to download something and then open it. 
  • Easier to find for users: Web pages have a much higher search ranking by Google than PDF or other documents. 
  • Quicker and easier to update: Once a web page is created, small changes can be made easily. This is much quicker than updating a PDF which usually involves finding the source document, editing it, converting to a PDF and then uploading. 
  • More control of the truth: You can be confident that people are reading the most up to date version of the content when it’s a web page. Rather than people downloading and sharing potentially old and inaccurate content. 
  • Branding: the website design meets College branding standards 
  • User data: There is much more data available about visitors to web pages so you can more insights on how they interact with your content. 

Forms and surveys 

Rather than use a PDF or word document for forms you should use the College’s form and survey tool, Qualtrics. Qualtrics forms can also be embedded directly on to your web pages. 

Writing accessible PDF and other online documents 

If you do still need to publish a document, it should only be in addition to your web pages.  

A good example of this is the Annual Report and accounts 2017-18. This was initially created as a printed piece which was then broken down into several web pages in order to give it the greatest reach possible. A PDF of the printed version is offered as an alternative way to consume this information. 

Advice for making PDFs more accessible 

GOV.UK has some great advice on publishing accessible documents including guidance on creating and converting PDFs as well as tools and techniques for checking the accessibility of documents. 

Further reading