Accessibility of files and documents

The Act on the Provision of Digital Services also pertains to files published online, not just web pages. The instructions of this guide will help you ensure that the files you create meet the legally prescribed accessibility requirements. The Act pertains to PDF, Word, PowerPoint and Excel files published online after 23 August 2018, meaning that the requirements are already in force.

Documents and files published online, as well as documents distributed as attachment files, must also be made accessible for the most part. An accessible document means a document that can be read with a screen reader program and follows the other general principles of accessibility. When producing documents intended to be distributed publicly or to clients, it is recommendable to use the styles of the application and the document template, as well as the accessibility features included in the application.

Always use the built-in styles and features of the application in question.

The same instructions related to content clarity, good language and visual aspects that apply to websites also apply to printable documents and documents distributed as files. If a presentation is distributed as a file, you must also take applications’ own settings into account in order to make the contents accessible.
The Word, Excel and PowerPoint applications of the Microsoft Office product family make it possible to create content that screen readers are able to identify correctly. PDF files exported from these applications can also be made accessible. If an accessible PDF file is created with the Adobe InDesign program, this must be taken into account in the paragraph styles (export tagging).
The accessibility of files is based on website-like technology. The contents consist of elements similar to those of a web page. First, follow all instructions pertaining to websites in terms of clarity and visual elements. Additionally, use the applications in accordance with the following instructions.
Even if you are not currently producing a file to be distributed online, keep in mind that the file may end up online at a later time. If you follow the instructions given here whenever you create Word, PowerPoint or Excel files, you will not have to remedy issues in your files afterwards.

In depth instructions for accessibility of files and documents:

Quick guidelines on the accessibility of files:


Check that:

  • all images and graphs have alt texts
  • the headings and subheadings of the document are created by using style attributes
  • links have texts that describe the object.


Check that:

  • the slides are implemented with styles and elements
  • the presentation slides are in their intended reading order.


Remember to:

  • give tabs a name that describes their contents
  • remove any blank tabs
  • use a clear table structure
  • use descriptive column headings.

PDF files (Adobe InDesign and Acrobat)

  • • from the PDF options, select the optimised option for electronic publishing.

More information in Finnish at Pdf ohjeet

More information on the accessibility of files in Finnish on the website. You will find plenty of more information on the subject below.

eOppiva and Celia

The training courses focus on Word, PowerPoint and Excel files and how they are converted into the PDF format correctly. The courses are intended for content-producing experts and communication officers working in public administration.

Accessible documents online

AVI and Celia

Accessibility expert Kirsi Ylänne from Celia talks about the implementation of accessibility in files and the challenges therein.

Accessibility of files