Module 6: Checkpoint 2—Minimum accessibility requirements

Conformance: Mandatory


Where non-HTML documents are used, they must meet minimum accessibility requirements.

All non-HTML document formats must:

  • provide hierarchical context for headings and text (be properly structured applying styles in Word and tags in Acrobat).
  • include correctly formatted structural elements such as a table of contents, links and bookmarks.
  • have a clear, logical and easy to follow reading order (including for example, the position of footnotes and supplementary content)
    • have text alternatives (or 'Alt text') on content images that convey the meaning of the image
    • have decorative images and repeated headers and footers removed from the reading order so that screen readers and other assistive technologies ignore them.
  • be formatted in such a way that it will be readable by people with vision or cognitive impairment (including dyslexia) e.g. use of white space, images and margins to improve scannability by breaking up the text.
  • have accessible tables with meaningful column headings:
    • tables should be used only for the purpose of setting out tabular data and not for general page layout
    • not include complex tables in non-HTML documents.
  • include hyperlinks on URLs and when referencing other parts of the document.
  • specify the natural language of the document.
  • have sufficient contrast between foreground and background colours according to Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 requirements.
  • ensure security settings do not exclude users of assistive technologies.
  • include metadata (refer to Checkpoint 8 - Metadata).

Exceptions to this include:


  1. Non-HTML documents must open in the same window (but the file should force the browser to download the document for use with standalone applications). Refer to Checkpoint 13 of Module 1 - Launching new windows.
  2. Applying accessibility techniques to PDFs (without an HTML equivalent) may reduce risk but does not remove it as PDFs are not fully accessible.

Benefits of conformance

  • Decreased potential for complaints and/or legal action.
  • Positive media exposure for following practices that are socially inclusive to the community.
  • Demonstration of ethical and social responsibility.
  • Access to information for all users - extended audience reach.
  • Greater search engine indexing.

Risks of non-conformance

  • Potential complaints and/or legal action against the Queensland Government.
  • Potential for negative media exposure.
  • Increase costs for service provision to some parts of the community.
  • User dissatisfaction and website abandonment.