Document Hurdles

By Amanda Mace at Web Key IT (15 January 2018)


There are various hurdles to jump when a company or organisation is on the road of their accessibility journey, one of those hurdles is digital documents.

PDF Documents are associated with a number of misconceptions, which prompt organisations to continue using them


We have been sold on the idea that PDFs are safer, but in truth PDF files are as capable of being corrupted with malware as any other file.

There is a notion that PDFs are more securely locked down. No organisation wants their clients and users making unauthorised changes to company documents. However, users are only a (insert your favourite search engine here) search away from unlocking and editing any document. There is also editing software which makes it easy to change and copy PDF content.

Easy Print

Printing is easier with PDFs. Or is it? HTML5 offers an easy print button or a print link. You can add this little bit of code and a print button or link will be available on any web page. HTML even allows you strip out the unnecessary content, such as ads contained on your site or the ability for users to print specific parts of a web page, so they only print the information needed. 

Why go HTML?

Being mobile friendly would be at top of the list for most. In an age where almost everything is seen firstly from the mobile view. HTML documents and forms being mobile responsive is a great advantage over PDF. Let’s not forget by using HTML, your documents will be more search engine and browser friendly too. There are a host of other reasons for switching your documents to HTML. Consider these advantages:

  • Enriched interactive content
  • Easy to share by link (even when a file is large)
  • Easy to maintain up-to-date and linked content
  • Link to data, product specific images etc. repositories
  • Less CPU intensive on server
  • No need to save or delete files
  • Can be formatted with the same CSS as the website
  • CMS controlled rules for structure and programmatically defined code
  • Smaller file size than PDFs allowing for a more direct translation of the content
  • Auto fill form fields

Most importantly, HTML is accessible! Properly code HTML semantic markup makes it the most accessible way to provide digital documents to your clients and users.

Although still gaining traction in the digital document world is ePub3. ePub is e-book file format which is HTML5 based and can be made fully accessible. ePub3 files have all the downloadable advantages of PDF as well as all the accessibility advantages of HTML.

Where do PDFs fit?

There is no doubt that PDFs are a widely accepted standard. They do have the advantage of being easily saved by the user in order to be available offline. If PDFs need to continue to play a part in your business’s digital documents remember to make them as accessible as possible and provide an accessible alternative.

Did you know we provide document training, consulting and remediation? Contact Web Key IT to find out how we can help you with the digital document hurdle.