The topic of Document Accessibility is one that receives a lot of attention these days…and for good reason. Over 21 million people in North America live with a visual impairment. Blindness affects over 3 million Americans age 40 and over. And, according to the National Eye Institute, the number of people who are blind or have low vision is projected to double in the next decade.
Freedom and Service
For the visually impaired and those with cognitive disabilities, the ability to access bills, statements, and other transactional documents means greater independence. For companies, accommodating customers who are visually impaired is not just good business, it’s required by federal legislation. To accommodate compliance and support forward-thinking corporate initiatives, many organizations are looking for workable solutions for the delivery of billing statements and other transactional documents for visually impaired customers in alternate formats.
PDF/UA – “Universally Accessible”
Formats for accessible documents range from traditional braille to large print, audio, and e-text and can solve many issues for people with disabilities. Most recently, PDF/UA documents have been developed for people who require assistive technology to communicate. According to Dr. Judith Dixon, the consumer relations officer for the National Library Service for the Blind, universal document accessibility means employing all of the above.
“An accessible PDF document is quite accessible for people who have the right equipment,” says Dr. Dixon, “but it is important for any company to know their constituents. Not all people have computers, or can use them effectively, so other alternatives need to also be used and considered.”
With all the various options to consider (evolving regulations and increasing market demand for accessible documents) it can be difficult to know which technologies and approaches to use. According to Dennis Quon, business development manager and Crawford Technologies, outsourcing may be the answer.
“We developed our DAS division (Document Accessibility Services) to help our clients meet the demand for accessible documents”, says Quon. “We’re experts at document re-engineering and transactional documents, so it just made sense to provide a service for accessible invoices and statements. Banks, utilities and telecommunications companies, as well as government organizations, all benefit from the option of outsourcing these specialized alternate format customer communications.”
Learn and Listen