How the Right Template Ensures You Create Digitally Accessible Documents

How the right template ensures you create Digitally Accessible Documents

If you work in a medium or large organization and deal with sending out letters or supplying documents to stakeholders, you may be familiar with Digital Accessibility. How do you ensure that all information you share with your target audience is available to everyone? How do you make digital documents accessible in an efficient way? We at SmartDocuments have the solution.

What is Digital Accessibility?

When an online environment is accessible, everyone can use it. This includes, for example, visitors with visual or hearing impairments. Digital accessibility applies to all kinds of digital content, from software to PDFs and websites. In more and more countries, document accessibility standards are now required by law. This means that all documents your organization provides in a digital way, must be accessible to everyone. Moreover, digital accessibility is not only mandatory in most cases, it is also customer-oriented, no matter what audience you serve as an organization.

Digitaal Toegankelijke Documenten op scherm

Nowadays, various tools are offered that promise to check whether the document you have created is digitally accessible. But, can a computer judge if something is truly accessible? Yes, they can examine the document using set guidelines, but human review is still required. Why? We’ll explain by giving an example.

Part of the guidelines for digital accessibility are the addition of a description for images (the so-called alt text). This description allows someone who cannot view the image, to still understand what is depicted, or if the image is merely decorative and has no function. A tool for digital accessibility can check whether each image in the document has an alt text. But, the tool cannot judge if the description is correct and complete. Even if you work with an AI-driven tool that can recognize that, for example, a bird is depicted, the tool does not know whether it is of specific importance that only the bird, or also the bird species is named. Or maybe both are irrelevant, but what’s important is the snowy branch the bird is sitting on. With such a tool, you are still required to check for yourself that all elements of the document are properly set, displayed and described.

Accessible documents that require no review

Does this mean there is no way to efficiently create digitally accessible documents? We at SmartDocuments believe there is. Efficient document creation starts with a well-built document template. By setting up the template according to the guidelines in advance, there is no need to check each document separately afterwards. How does that work?

SmartDocuments is a document creation software solution that operates by using smart templates. With our software, you manage your template house style elements and content in a central environment and generate documents based on preset templates. Personalized content (such as addressing) is added to the document by the end user thanks to a question-answer dialogue, or automated, for example by XML.

These preset templates are the solution. If you set up a template in such a way that it is digitally accessible, every document you generate based on this template, will be as well!

One correct template, thousands of accessible documents

When creating the template, you follow the guidelines for digitally accessible documents. Is the spacing correct? Does the image included in the template have the right description? Is all information perceivable to reading software? Yes, this method requires some effort up front, but it saves a ton of work afterwards. Remember that you can generate thousands of documents with one template. We are sure you agree it is well worth the investment.

By getting the settings right and managing content and house style in one place, you can easily generate digitally accessible documents. Reach out to us to learn more.