20 May 2024

5 ways A2i increase the digital accessibility of your e-text PDFs.

by Amelia Ling


At A2i, our expert transcribers follow a strict process, guided by WCAG accessibility standards, to ensure our e-text documents are accessible to people who are Blind or visually impaired.

E-text is a digitally accessible format for people who cannot read printed text. Some people need to read information digitally using accessible software such as screen readers, refreshable Braille displays or screen magnifiers. Read our blog, ‘What is e-text’ to find out more about e-text as an accessible format.

E-text can be transcribed into Word format or an accessible PDF. We want to tell you 5 ways A2i check the digital accessibility of your e-text PDFs.

Before we convert your e-text document into an accessible PDF it has to be transcribed and formatted correctly. This includes aligning and spacing your text, marking the headings, and choosing the right font styles and sizes to increase readability.


A lady preparing e-text on a computer screen


1 Alternative text (alt text)

Once we convert your e-text document into a PDF, we can start to make it accessible. Alternative text is one of the first ways we increase the digital accessibility of your document. Alternative text is a short description of any non-text item such as an image, logo, graph, or diagram. Alternative text allows people who are visually impaired to understand the non-text items in your document.


2 Reading order

We programme your e-text PDF to read text in a logical order that makes sense for someone using read out loud software. This includes ordering your text into heading levels, such as title headings, subheadings, and the main body of text. Without a reading order, your document will have no chronology for someone using digital accessibility tools.


3 Descriptions

Descriptions often get confused with alternative text, as alternative text is a type of description! Alternative text is used to describe images whilst descriptions are not. Descriptions tell your readers the title of your e-text document, what it is about and who wrote it. Listening to the descriptions of an e-text document is comparable to a sighted person reading the cover of an e-text document.


4 Colour contrast

Colour contrast is an aspect of digital accessibility that many people are familiar with. We make sure the contrast between the colours within your e-text document are high enough to pass WCAG accessibility standards. For example, white text on a pale blue background might have a low contrast and be difficult to read. E-text is not simply for people who are blind; many people with low vision like to read e-text.


5 User testing

We recently asked one of our staff members for their perspective on our e-text documents. As a user of e-text and accessible software, such as screen readers, their feedback was invaluable and allowed us to improve the digital accessibility of our e-text documents.

For example, when we programme the reading order of your document, we can choose to delete items like bullet points or tag them as an item that should not be read out loud. Advice and expertise from people with lived experience helps us to make decisions about how we transcribe our documents. We now know that by deleting non text items, like bullets or paragraph markers, they cannot accidentally be read out loud.

Dave sitting at his desk, smiling, in A2i's office. He is wearing a turquoise jumper and has headphones on


If you enjoyed reading this blog about how A2i increase the digital accessibility of your e-text PDFs, click here to find out how visually impaired people access e-text documents.

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