PDFs and other types of content

Minimum you need to do

Ensure all PDFs and other types of content are accessible. Only use a PDF alongside an HTML-equivalent or summary.

Acceptable PDF publishing

NSW Government prefers HTML content. By default, publish content that is under four pages as HTML, without any alternative format. Make all efforts to provide an HTML format instead of a PDF.  

If you are publishing a PDF, it must be accessible and accompany an HTML-equivalent or summary. To that end, create an accessible Word version of any PDF for your content team to rework into HTML content.  

Where you don’t have an HTML equivalent, you will need to provide contact details: 

  • on the web page 
  • on the accessible PDF  

for people to be able to get an alternative accessible version. 

PDFs need an accessible alternative because: 

  • not all versions of all screen readers read out PDFs in a consistent way 
  • PDFs do not currently have accessibility support on mobile devices. 

How to make PDFs accessible

  • All images should have appropriate text alternatives. 
  • Use a contrast ratio of at least 4.5:1 for text and images of text. Or use a ratio of at least 3:1 for large text (18+ points or 14+ points if bold). 
  • All tables should have a specified in header row and first column. 
  • Use styled text rather than images of text. 
  • Use descriptive links. Or describe the purpose of the link from a sentence, paragraph, list, parent list, table cell or header cell. 
  • Tag PDFs, including all headings, lists and tables. 

Making types of content accessible

Guidance on how to make different types of content accessible and useful:  

Testing for accessibility

You should test the accessibility of any PDF and Word document you are publishing, in the content creation and review process. 

Testing PDF accessibility 

Use the inbuilt accessibility checkers in Adobe Acrobat and Adobe Reader X to identify possible accessibility issues and how to fix them.   

Testing Microsoft Word accessibility

Use Microsoft Word’s inbuilt accessibility checker to tell you about possible accessibility issues and how to fix them.  

Testing colour contrast 

Use Vision Australia’s colour contrast analyser to check foreground and background colour visibility. The tool also allows you to create simulations of certain visual conditions, such as colour blindness. 

How to show you’ve met accessibility for types of content

You will have:

  • published an HTML-equivalent or summary of any PDF

  • tested the accessibility of any supplementary PDFs and Word documents 

  • tested the accessibility of other content types

  • tested the colour contrast of content

  • included the accessibility testing of types of content in your content creation, review and publishing workflow.

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