A business isn’t a business without its stakeholders. These individuals are the lifeblood of a firm’s success and refer to just about everybody involved with the enterprise.
To restore a sense of balance between businesses and the wider world, many firms increasingly dabble in ‘stakeholder capitalism’ – a term used to describe a business model where firms consider the interests of all their stakeholders (employees, partners, legal advisors, suppliers, local communities, customers), rather than just their shareholders. It’s a prioritisation of long-term value rather than short-term financial gains.
Consequently, creating accessible PDFs can be influential in these aims. It might seem like something that should be an internal aim only, but there are plenty of reasons to involve many individuals from the stakeholder pool!
What are these reasons? What role can stakeholders play in the creation of accessible PDFs? We discuss all of this and more after the jump.
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PDFs are designed to make file-sharing more accessible, even without the additional considerations we’ll cover later. It’s worth touching on those points to understand why stakeholder contributions are so important.
After all, PDF became a popular format for two big reasons:
- The fact that these file formats are ‘platform-independent’ means they can be viewed and printed via most competing operating systems and devices without any formatting adjustments. Quality is consistent!
- The fact that PDFs are highly secure, as they can be encrypted, require digital signatures and can be password-protected too. Any document that requires authenticity (i.e. financial papers, legally binding contracts) can all have their integrity maintained by the PDF file format.
Of course, accessibility is a cornerstone of the digital age in every sector, too. Some laws state that resources and information should be accessible to all individuals. It’s easy to see how the PDF file format is used as a focal point of these requirements.
Still, one must do more than the minimum. There are ethical considerations, too, in the way of providing equal opportunities for all and promoting inclusivity. PDFs can be made to be more inclusive and accessible than they already are, and stakeholders can be involved at multiple points in the process.
Accessible PDFs take things a step further, as their name implies. They’re specially designed to assist disabled users in accessing, navigating, and comprehending everything they’re presented within the file.
So, those with cognitive disabilities, hearing and visual impairments, and mobility limitations all need to be accounted for here. Stakeholders come from all walks of life, and it’s safe to assume there will be disabled individuals counted among them. Additionally, there will be stakeholders who can help firms account for others, as partners also fall under the stakeholder umbrella!
AbleDocs are particularly helpful here. They are the leading global digital accessibility provider, helping organisations reach their inclusivity goals with a varied range of services and products. Their work fulfils all the latest compliance procedures, and those intrigued can subscribe to their newsletter for the latest updates on the subject. Interested parties can also learn more at https://abledocs.com/.
Expert intervention is needed to fully explore all the potential with accessible PDFs. There are many features to utilise here; proper heading structure, logical reading order, alternative text for images, and increased compatibility with screen readers. Stakeholders that are partners can weigh in and not only ensure the right boxes are ticked but also guarantee that a firm’s efforts with inclusivity can go the extra mile.
Graphic designers, content writers, and developers can be counted among stakeholders. After all, they’re all either employees or partners.
Obviously, they can contribute in many ways to the creation of an accessible PDF. However, the main perk of their direct involvement is to establish consistency. They can achieve this by creating design templates that subsequent versions of accessible PDFs can adhere to, outlining procedures around structural elements, the formatting of text, and more.
Every great creation has foundational ideas, but these professionals can contribute to the creation of accessible PDFs in other ways too. They could:
- Test assistive technologies to facilitate full functionality of screen readers and more.
- Provide colour contrast between background colours and text to enhance readability for end-users.
- Ensure hyperlinks are also visually striking so that interactive elements are more clearly signposted.
- Contribute to accessibility guidelines so that best practices can be recorded as they’re carried out and fresh in the memory, instructing the next wave of workers flawlessly.
- Lead accessibility training that provides detailed overviews of everything mentioned so far, ensuring the principles and practicalities of accessible PDFs are upheld through the years.
Of course, depending on the end-user, each accessible PDF may need to achieve something specific to them. Nevertheless, there needs to be a pragmatic throughline when creating accessible PDFs, with a robust framework for all design principles.
The Value of Diverse Perspectives
As we’ve eluded to a few times so far, every stakeholder is different. With that comes the opportunity to tap into some very unique and insightful perspectives.
A user-centred design is essential when creating accessible PDFs. If these fundamentals are lacking, end-suers with disability users will be neglected. They need to be an intrinsic part of the creation process, and for that to happen, communication lines need to be open with creators, advisors, and everyone in between.
After all, in cultural contexts, there’s growing evidence to support the benefits of diverse perspectives, resulting in better judgements for a more inclusive culture. These same lessons can be applied to creating accessible PDFs, as everyone will have ideas to bring to the table.
For example, accessibility experts, designers, and end-users can all come together and collaborate in certain circumstances. Businesses could orchestrate feedback sessions, workshops, and other forms of recurrent meetings to develop ideas, articulate personal experiences, and identify areas of concern and common ground. Collaboration can be kickstarted by deeper conversation.
From the project’s conception to its completion, the end-user should always be at the heart of any effort to create accessible PDFs. Other professionals can help firms make something memorable, but these efforts also require ethics and empathy too. Entrepreneurs are encouraged to open their minds and ask for support where needed, as it will all better position them to help others.