Creating Accessible Documents

Instructions for creating accessible documents in different programs.

Consider our "Fast Five" essentials for preparing materials for your courses:


Headings in Pages

  1. Type the text you want into Pages.

  2. Select a sentence/phrase that you want to become a heading.

  3. Select Format. 

  4. Select the heading you want, such as the Heading 1 button. 

See also: Intro to paragraph styles in Pages | Mac help.

Google Workspace

Use the Grackle plugin as the in-program accessibility checker for Google Docs, Slides, and Sheets.

Microsoft Documents

Instructions for the Microsoft Office Suite

For Microsoft Office Suite documents such as those created with Word, Powerpoint, or Excel, we highly recommend the LinkedIn Learning course, Digital Accessibility for the Modern Workplace.

All Office Suite documents have an Accessibility Checker built-in.


Instructions for Improving the Accessibility of an Existing PDF

Use SensusAccess

SensusAccess is an online service that converts text- and image-based documents into different accessible formats (searchable PDFs, audio, Braille, or e-text). It is available to all Swarthmore staff, students, and faculty with a Swarthmore College email address.

The quality of the converted document is highly dependent on the quality of the original document. For example, a clearly-structured Word document will yield a better result than a poorly-scanned PDF. See for more information.

To begin converting a document, go to the SensusAccess page, upload a file, and select the appropriate format.

Take advantage of SensusAccess from anywhere

You do not have to be on campus to take advantage of this service.

Use Acrobat

PDFs are notoriously difficult to make fully accessible; however, you can make improvements by using Acrobat's built-in Action Wizard [YouTube] and choosing Make Accessible.

Take advantage of our librarians

Our librarians are well-versed in finding accessible content and can be very useful resources. Visit the library's research support page for more information.

Use the power of the internet

Another option—instead of fixing an existing PDF—is to use a web link to an HTML version of the document. Generally, HTML is one of the most accessible document formats. 

Web Pages

Ways you can contact ITS or find information:

ITS Support Portal:
Phone: x4357 (HELP) or 610-328-8513
Check out our remote resources at
Check our homepage at