Make your print-style content digitally accessible

Make your print-style content digitally accessible

By Substrakt


If you're publishing your brochures and other print online it's key to make sure your digital content is accessible.  Kathryn Mason at Substrakt looks at options that make sure your content works for users with access needs.

Spend any time on the internet and you’ll likely come across digital publishing platforms such as Issuu. These are products that aim to turn pdfs or other printed documents into online, “magazine-style” content.

While it’s understandable that they appeal to organisations that want to make their content more widely available, these formats can often have accessibility issues, for example, the content can’t be read by screen readers.

Issuu uses a ‘full-screen reader’, which some people unsurprisingly misinterpret to mean it’s accessible. But this just means that you have a bigger page on your screen, it’s not actually visible to screen reading software (read more about why Issuu’s full-screen reader is not accessible).

So put simply, we advise organisations against using Issuu because it’s unusable for people with access needs.

We’ve identified an option that offers a lot more to users with access needs. With Publitas each page is unique, you can add in specific hotspots and additional navigation points, alt text and content.

For organisations who already have Issuu and want to carry on using it to serve people without visual impairments, we’d strongly recommend that you make sure you’re also offering accessible alternatives. A good option is a downloadable PDF that includes the following things to help make it as accessible as possible:

  • All images and symbols have alternative text added for descriptive clarity
  • All text is Optical Character Recognition (OCR) identifiable for reading capabilities
  • The document is auto-tagged
  • Full screen view and zoom available
  • All text in the document is presented as text and not imagery
  • Tags are added to indicate a heading structure, so that screen readers understand the flow of information
  • Set a PDF file language to help those using screen readers

Here are some useful resources that help to explain how you can create accessible PDFs and why it’s so important:

Head and shoulders Kathryn Mason

Kathryn Mason, Substrakt 

This article is sponsored by Substrakt as part of their sponsorship of Inclusivity and Audiences Day 2022. 

Substrakt logo



Resource type: Articles | Published: 2022