Welcome to our December issue of the Accessibility Minute Newsletter! This newsletter is produced by the CU Boulder Digital Accessibility Office and covers one accessibility skill or topic per month. Please visit the DAO website to access past newsletters. As always, thank you for taking a minute (or two!) to read.

Form Accessibility

At many points in our work, we often need to collect information from our audience. A seemingly simple solution is to create a form. However, creating an accessible and usable form will take thought and intention (it won't happen on its own).

Creating accessible PDF forms will always require a significant amount of work. Creating accessible forms requires more than simply dropping form elements into a PDF document. This month’s newsletter will discuss other recommendations for accessible form creation, and guidance for creating accessible PDF forms when no alternative approach will do.

It is understood that PDF accessibility takes extensive time, training, and practice, and with other job duties, it may be difficult to complete this type of work within your role. Due to the level of difficulty in creating accessible PDF forms, we highly recommend converting to or creating web forms (HTML forms) instead of PDF forms.

Web Forms Versus PDF Forms

The reasons we recommend using web forms over PDF forms include, but are not limited to,

  • Web forms are often easier to access and use by your audience on a variety of devices and browsers, which can eliminate many of the accessibility barriers present in PDF forms.
  • Web forms are inherently more responsive to keyboard navigation, allowing users to fill them out without a mouse.
  • Your audience is also more likely to complete a web form than to download and read a PDF, especially on mobile.
  • Web forms can adapt seamlessly to various screen sizes and resolutions, ensuring a consistent experience across devices. PDF forms may distort or become illegible when zoomed in, impacting usability for individuals with visual impairments.
  • For creators, web forms are much easier to create, update, and maintain than PDF forms.

PDF Form Accessibility Guidance

We recommend utilizing web forms over PDF forms; however, we understand that there may be instances where PDF forms are necessary. If this is the case, we have specific guidance that should be followed to enhance the accessibility of a PDF form. Please note that the guidance below is not all encompassing and will not give you a full picture of the overall accessibility of your PDF form. To create an accessible PDF form, you must also ensure that the PDF itself is accessible, meaning the context around the form fields. For PDF accessibility guidance, visit Adobe Acrobat Pro PDF Accessibility.

If you are affiliated with CU Boulder, please contact the DAO for additional support and training on PDF form accessibility. If not, then we recommend consulting with experts within your organization for more information and support. We have also compiled a list of resources to support you with PDF form accessibility.

PDF Form Accessibility Resources

December Challenge

Review your current forms and assess whether or not they could be converted to a web form.

DAO News

The DAO presents a tri-annual Digital Accessibility Buff Award, recognizing CU Boulder students, staff, and faculty who have demonstrated noteworthy digital accessibility practices and fostered an inclusive digital environment for individuals with disabilities. We are excited to share that Emilie Young has been selected as the Digital Accessibility Buff Award winner for the December 2023 cycle! Read more about why Emilie is our Digital Accessibility Buff Award Winner!

Follow the DAO on LinkedIn! By following us, you'll get access to behind-the-scenes insight on our office, information about our services, applicable accessibility tips posted every Tuesday, resources, upcoming event information, and more.

Office hours will be canceled for December, 2023, due to the holiday break.

Your Thoughts

We want to hear from you! If you have any questions or comments, please send us your thoughts on this month’s topic.

If you have questions, comments, or would like support with accessibility, please contact us at DigitalAccessibility@Colorado.EDU.