Digital Accessibility for Utility Providers

frustrated blind man in headphones gesturing irritably at his laptop.

Everyone uses utilities. We all need water, electricity, gas, as well as phones and internet. But can everyone use their utility company’s website, mobile apps, or documents? Statistics show that one in four people in the United States has a disability, and globally, over a billion people are estimated to have disabilities by the World Health Organization. Many people who are blind, low vision, or who have motor or cognitive disabilities use assistive technology to access digital content. They cannot access vital billing and usage information from their utility companies if that information is not coded or tagged for accessibility. But digital accessibility for utility providers can be daunting, especially for their system-generated digital documents, which can number in the millions. 

Mandated by law

The Americans with Disabilities Act mandates that no person should be discriminated against based on their disability. This includes not only physical accommodations, such as ramps and elevators, but also extends to digital accessibility, including email, websites, portals, and mobile applications. The Department of Justice as well as numerous state laws also enforce equal access to digital information, ensuring that all utility customers can access crucial documents like bills, emergency updates, mandated reports (such as water quality reports), and other essential information. 

Digital accessibility lawsuits on the rise

There were over 4,000 accessibility lawsuits in 2023, including over 2,200 for digital accessibility alone.  These numbers have risen steadily over the last several years. The count of lawsuits includes a number of utility providers. As federal and state mandates continue to be enforced, these numbers will only increase. Proactively ensure all your digital content, including PDFs, is accessible to mitigate risk of lawsuits. 

Measures of success

The most widely accepted digital accessibility standards are the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). WCAG is an international set of rules developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) to provide a technical standard for what digital accessibility should look like. While the United States does not officially specify WCAG standards as law, most courts, the Department of Justice (DoJ), and accessibility experts agree that when websites and digital documents meet WCAG they are accessible. This satisfies digital accessibility requirements in laws such as the ADA and Section 508 and reduces the risk of litigation. 

PDFs are often inaccessible

Many organizations provide their bills, statements, and reports in the form of system-generated PDFs that are emailed to their customers or available for download via portals, websites, and mobile apps. Despite their prevalence, these PDFs often lack accessibility features, making them unusable for people who rely on assistive technology. Making PDFs accessible can be challenging without the appropriate tools. The sheer volume of system-generated PDFs means achieving digital accessibility for utility providers presents a formidable task.

Automating accessibility

Fortunately, advancements in technology now allow for the automation of PDF remediation, making them accessible to all customers. This process can occur either during document generation or through post-processing, where accessibility features are added at the end of the document generation process without requiring changes to existing workflows.

Achieving compliance

In addition to optimizing websites and mobile applications to ensure compatibility with screen readers and other assistive technologies, PDFs must also be made accessible.  Due to the volume, automation is the fastest and least expensive solution. Historically, this has yet to be a viable solution. This is because most automated solutions such as “auto-taggers” are unable to fully and accurately remediate the documents, meaning assistive technology users are not truly getting an equivalent experience. However, Equidox has developed a cutting-edge solution that can meet WCAG and Section 508 guidelines, and ensure system-generated PDFs are usable for every customer.  

Automated PDF Accessibility eBook

Equidox AI for accessible PDFs

Equidox AI is a fully automated, AI-powered PDF accessibility solution for high-volume, templated documents. The solution is cost-effective, accurate, and produces fully accessible and compliant PDFs with no human intervention. Mitigating the risk of digital accessibility lawsuits and meeting legally mandated requirements to make PDFs accessible is now possible at scale. Equidox AI is fast, less expensive, and far more accurate than has ever been possible in the past. Additionally, each custom Equidox AI model is siloed and secure to protect sensitive customer data. It is also applied post-processing, so there is no need to change existing document generation workflows. 

Get accessible PDFs the easy way

Ensuring digital accessibility for utility providers is not just a matter of legal compliance but also a fundamental aspect of inclusivity and equitable access to vital information and services. By leveraging AI-powered technology to automate PDF accessibility, utility providers can ethically serve all customers, regardless of their abilities, in a way that is efficient and cost-effective. 

Contact us for automated PDF accessibility


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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."