3 Reasons to Make PDFs Accessible

Women coworkers working at a computer learning 3 reasons to make PDFs accessible.

PDFs are Everywhere

Nearly every website has PDF files. They are the preferred file type for marketing downloads, owner’s manuals, brochures, reports or statements, and forms. Like all web pages, PDF files on your website must be accessible for those using assistive technology to access your digital content. Accessibility is a legal requirement, and complying will expand your market and fiscally benefit your organization. 

Digital Accessibility is the Law, and it’s being Enforced

Digital accessibility lawsuits are up over 200% over the last five years. There were 3,225 federal digital accessibility lawsuits filed in 2022. 

In the majority of cases, courts find in favor of the plaintiffs. The prevailing judgments require the defendant to make their website, including their PDF files, accessible. Because organizations most likely will have to make their website accessible after being sued, it’s plain that acting preemptively to reach accessibility compliance is the best way to avoid litigation. The remediation will need to be done, and doing it before you get sued will avoid legal fees and damage to your public reputation. 


Lack of Compliance can Damage Your Market Share

Nearly 25% of the U.S. population identifies as having a disability. Address digital accessibility to ensure you reach that quarter of your market. 

Digital accessibility compliance usually leads to a better overall user experience. A study by the U.K. in 2019 found that 69% of customers with disabilities will leave a website if it’s difficult to use. The study also found that among people with disabilities, “9 out of 10 don’t bother complaining about digital accessibility problems.” They will find another organization to provide for their needs, one that is accessible. The 2019 study estimated that this resulted in £17.1 billion in lost revenue in the U.K. alone. 

Another study by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) called the Business Case for Digital Accessibility found that digital accessibility compliance results in better search engine optimization (SEO). This study included a case study by National Public Radio (NPR) that reported a 6.86% increase in search traffic and a 4.18% increase in unique visitors after implementing transcripts for their broadcasts. Transcripts are only one element of digital accessibility. Digital tags used by people with assistive technology to read PDFs are also detected by search engines, and contribute to the SEO of your web content.

PDFs often comprise sales and marketing content, as well as important documents such as owner’s manuals, product descriptions, and forms. Failure to make your PDFs accessible can be very damaging to your brand. 

Accessibility Pays

According to Return on Disability, people with disabilities (PWD) are a market the size of China and the European Union combined. U.S. adults with disabilities command a disposable income of $490 billion. This is comparable to the U.S. African American ($501 billion) and Hispanic ($582 billion) markets.

Add in the friends and family of people with disabilities and that disposable income rises to over $8 trillion. Friends and family of people with disabilities demonstrate loyalty to brands and companies that support accessibility. 

Accessibility is a part of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Over 77% of consumers make spending choices based on companies supporting an issue they care about. Customers with an emotional connection to a brand are 26% more likely to recommend that brand. 

A commitment to digital accessibility, including your PDF files, contributes to your organization’s CSR and ensures you are not losing out on the enormous benefits that are reaped by supporting people with disabilities. 


Accessibility is the right choice

Digital accessibility- including PDF accessibility- is not just “nice to have.” It’s the law, it demonstrates inclusiveness, and it’s a vital component of Corporate Social Responsibility. Digital accessibility, including your PDF documents, should be a top priority in your organization. 

What can you do about it?

All PDFs need to be tagged for accessibility. Software and other solutions are available to make that process easy. Take the time to learn about PDF remediation and which solutions will make remediation easy for your unique documents.

When you’re ready to address your inaccessible PDFs, contact Equidox to learn how!


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Tammy Albee

Tammy Albee | Director of Marketing | Equidox Tammy joined Equidox after four years of experience working at the National Federation of the Blind. She firmly maintains that accessibility is about reaching everyone, regardless of ability, and boosting your market share in the process. "Nobody should be barred from accessing information. It's what drives our modern society."

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When you’re ready to address your inaccessible PDFs, contact Equidox to learn how!