Document Compliance Standards

Remove barriers to accessible, inclusive digital experiences.

What are Accessibility Standards, and Why Do We Need Them?

In the context of communications, accessibility standards require that a document or digital asset is easily opened, read, understood, and navigated by people with or without disabilities.

Website pages, images, videos, sound, and PDFs must be accessible to people with a broad scope of disabilities. For some people, Assistive Technology (AT), like a screen reader, is required to read a digital asset the way it was intended. Other people may need their communications in a more accessible format like PDF, braille, or large text.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

You are probably familiar with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a US guideline enforced by the Department of Justice. It was created to accommodate the needs of people with disabilities in public areas like buildings, parks, facilities, and transportation (to name a few).

ADA and other accessibility guidelines also extend to communications and IT.

Even if an organization is not directly required to follow other compliance requirements, nearly every organization is subject to the ADA. The ADA is separated into multiple titles covering almost all organizations, instilling this accessibility requirement across the board.

If you live outside of the United States, you must comply with your country’s laws. Most countries have disability civil rights laws inspired by the ADA that contain guidelines, regulations, or standards. beside US Department of Justice seal


The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has developed web standards, including HTML and CSS, since 1994. Everyone who designs or provides content for the web is using a W3C standard, whether they know it or not.

W3C logo


Drawing from the experience of an international group of members, W3C created Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) to provide one standard that applies across the web.

These standards have guidelines to ensure that content is perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust (POUR) to everyone, including people with disabilities.

Three testable WCAG conformance levels exist: A, AA, and AAA. A is the lowest accessibility criteria, and AAA is the greatest (and most challenging to achieve). For example, accessible color/contrast of text is harder in AAA than in A because the list of accessible combinations is much more limited.

Most organizations strive for AA.


Section 508

Section 508 affects federal agencies and any organization that accepts federal funding. A document that meets WCAG 2.0AA is Section 508 compliant.

Section 508 logo

ISO 32000 – PDF Standard

ISO 32000 addresses some accessibility functionality, but its primary purpose is to ensure correct PDF construction by offering guidelines for software developers and content authors. It checks document components like links, forms, graphics, and the literal encoding of the PDF.

ISO logo


PDF/UA (UA stands for Universal Accessibility) is an accessibility standard focused on PDFs. It provides standard terms and requirements for accessibility. The minimum requirement for PDF/UA compliance is a tagged document.

PDF/UA Foundation logo


The US Department of Health and Human Services developed the HHS standard for healthcare organizations. Every electronic or information resource created by or purchased through a healthcare provider in the United States is required by law to be accessible. Section 508 compliance is also necessary to meet HHS’s accessibility guidelines.

Department of Health & Human Services, USA logo

European Accessibility Act

The European Accessibility Act (EAA) is a legislative directive adopted by the European Union to ensure the accessibility of certain products and services across its Member States. The primary objective of the EAA is to improve the functioning of the internal market by harmonizing accessibility requirements, thereby eliminating barriers created by divergent national rules.

European Accessibility Act logo

Compliant experiences.

Are you ready to deliver accessible, intuitive experiences for all users?

Contact us today, and one of our accessible communications experts will guide you through the process.

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