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Document Accessibility – what is it all about?

Every document file must undergo accessibility adjustments before uploading to the website so that people with disabilities, and especially those who suffer from blindness or visual impairment, can also “read” it by means of a screen reader software that conveys them the text by vocal reading.

In practice, the accessibility adjustments applied to the document take the form of arrangement/editing at the level of the software settings underlying the written content, in order to ensure a fluent, coherent and accurate vocal reading that will replicate as closely as possible the way a human eye depicts written text (paying heed to headings, lists, tables, diagrams etc. and interpreting them as such).

We process every document we handle from beginning to end, using automated systems as well as manual scrutiny, subject to strict quality control. The process includes adaptation of the document to the accessibility principles set in the applicable standard. We make sure, among other things, that the hierarchy of headings, titles and subtitles is correct, that tables and lists are properly defined in the settings, that images and diagrams are aligned with the text and include an adequate alternative description, etc.

“Hearing” of text through the screen reader, especially in lengthy, complex documents such as financial reports, tenders or presentations, is an extremely challenging task. Hence, the accessibility adjustments we implement seek to enable the best possible approximation in terms of vocal articulation of the way a person with no visual impairment scans the text with his/her eyes.

We operate in a way that has initially been designed to minimize and even alleviate the nuisance and concern that the need to hand over important company documents for processing by a third party just before launching them online may naturally cause, especially in times of high pressure and the need to upload the documents on time. We are available 24/7, 365 days a year (and many of our clients will testify that this is a true representation which we deliver in practice), including circumstances where documents must be processed for accessibility in very short time frames without prior notice.

In case of official publications such as tenders or announcements to the public, we receive the final draft of the document in Word format, process it for accessibility without delay and return the client an accessible Word copy accompanied by a converted accessible PDF version, ready for uploading to the web.

Where seasonal/periodic publications are concerned, such as the financial reports of public companies, we sometimes conduct several rounds of accessibility processing: we process the preliminary format of the document in advance and repeat the process upon the final draft, once all the changes and updates thereof have been completed, on the eve of the publication. Here, too, we receive original Word files of the various documents, process them and return them to the client in accessible Word format and a converted accessible PDF format, ready for uploading to the web.

We work closely and in full cooperation with the corporate personnel responsible for the documents/reports of the corporation – legal advisors, CFOs and controllers, and take care that our work will have no – or minimal – effect on their internal corporate workflow.

We are fully aware of the strict publication schedule that public companies face concerning their financial statements and make sure to return to our clients a final, accessible version on time, without exception. Furthermore, we accompany our clients right up to the moment of publication, including repeated reviews of the documents in case of last-minute changes. Meeting those high levels of service and commitment is our biggest pride.

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