Authoring Documents with Accessibility in Mind

Handouts Media

Presented at 2:15pm in Meadowbrook I/II on Wednesday, November 20, 2019.



  • Paul Rayius, Director of Training, CommonLook

Session Details

  • Length of Session: 1-hr
  • Format: Lecture
  • Expertise Level: Beginner
  • Type of session: General Conference


Taking a proactive approach to document accessibility can save you time, money, and frustration! In this session, we’ll explore document accessibility from the author's or creator's perspective. We'll explore best practices, “things to consider,” what to do, and what not to do. We'll also address how WCAG 2.1 affects document creation.


Creating accessible documents can be a confusing topic and a daunting task. Of course, it’s always easier and more cost-effective, in regard to time, money, and frustration, if you plan ahead and design with accessibility in mind as opposed to having to remediate PDFs after they’ve been created. In this workshop, we’ll explore document accessibility at the creation phase – best practices, what to do, and what not to do, so that your PDFs are more likely to be accessible from the start. While not focused on specific authoring tools or functionality, we’ll explore the concepts, content, presentation, and standards that go into making accessible documents. We'll discuss things like color, contrast, images, tables, lists, formatting, and, of course, the various accessibility standards including WCAG 2.0, 2.1, and PDF/UA. We'll also mention some helpful tools that document creators can use as well as testing tools to make sure that you didn't miss anything!


  1. How to create documents with accessibility in mind.
  2. How WCAG 2.1, PDF/UA, and other standards influence document accessibility.
  3. How to test documents to make sure that they really are accessible.

Disability Areas

Cognitive/Learning, Vision

Topic Areas

Accessible Course Design, Accessible Educational Materials, Uncategorized

Speaker Bio(s)

Paul Rayius

Since 2013, Paul has helped a variety of organizations, including healthcare, government agencies (local, state and federal), financial institutions, and colleges and universities meet their PDF accessibility needs. In addition to his expertise with the CommonLook suite of tools for testing, creating and remediating PDFs, he is also well versed in accessibility standards including Section 508 (including the recent “refresh”), Health and Human Services (HHS), WCAG 2.0 and PDF/UA. Paul is a member of the IAAP (International Association of Accessibility Professionals) and serves on various committees for the CPACC exam, WAS, and BOK. In addition, he is a member of the PDF Association and participates in the PDF/UA Competence Center and the PDF/UA Technical Working Group. Paul also participates in, and moderates, several online accessibility groups and forums. Prior to joining the CommonLook team, Paul graduated with a BMe in Instrumental Music Education from Florida State University and taught middle school band for 11 years. In his spare time, he enjoys various outdoor activities and is an avid lacrosse player and geocacher.