Digital accessibility is the practice of making sure that websites, applications, files, and digital tools are designed and built in such a way that they can be used by people of all abilities.

This includes people with physical, visual, auditory, and cognitive impairments, and people with learning disabilities.

Checklist for Writing Inclusive Content


Before we build an accessible document, we need to be sure our content is accessible and inclusive.

  • Use short paragraphs and sentences.
    • Stick to one idea per paragraph.
  • Use clear, concise, short headings.
  • Avoid jargon.
  • Be direct and get to the point.
  • List resources in order of importance.
    • Most important information should be at the top of the page.
  • Use I, you, we, and us.
  • Use plain language and active verbs.
  • Avoid repetition.

Building an Accessible Document


Accessible Document Structure


Use Semantic Structure

The semantic structure provides a clear framework for your documents, making it easier for users with assistive technologies, such as screen readers, to navigate and understand the content. Microsoft Word and Adobe Acrobat offer accessibility checker tools, and most CMS and email platforms will have heading, list, and table styles built into their WYSWYG editors.

Content Hierarchy

The hierarchy should be established through the use of headings, subheadings, and other organizational elements. Think of your documents like an outline for an essay.


  • Headings help people navigate a document quickly. 
  • Write clear, concise headings to convey the meaning and structure of the content. 
  • Headings should be used in sequential order starting with Heading 1.


  • Bulleted lists are used for lists with no important order.
  • Numbered lists used are for specifically ordered lists.


  • Use tables for tabular data only. Do not use table to format non-tabular data.
  • Include table titles, headings
  • Do not combine tables
  • Add alt text to tables

Images, Graphics, & Charts

  • Use images and graphics to break up text.
    • Assign contextual alternative text.
  • Easy-to-read charts or graphs can do a better job of explaining a complex topic than text alone.

Alternative Text

Alternative (Alt) Text conveys the meaning of an image as it relates to the content of a document. It is read aloud to users by screen reader software, and it is indexed by search engines. It also displays on a document if the image fails to load.

  • Add alt text to all non-decorative images, graphics, tables, screenshots, and charts.
  • Select "decorative" for purely decorative images.
  • Keep it short and descriptive, like a tweet.
  • Don’t include “image of” or “photo of”.
  • Your description should match the context. Be detailed if necessary.
  • Logos and wordmarks convey contextual information and are not considered decorative.


Write helpful links:

  • Describe the action the link performs for the link text rather than using “Click Here” 
  • Spell out email addresses


  • Body copy should be a minimum of 12 pts.
  • Use built in semantic styles