David Berman Communications
David Berman will help you repeat your successes


Training, Audit, Repair

David Berman Communications strongly believes that we can design a better world that leaves no one behind. We’ve been leaders in the online accessibility field for over 15 years, and we’re eager to help you gain from the benefits of inclusive design. We strategize, we train, we coach, we analyse, we publish, we design, we remediate, we test and certify WCAG, PDF/UA, AODA, ADA, and Section 508 compliance … filling the gaps in your expertise and capacity, so that you can broaden your reach, drive down costs, improve SEO, with techniques that improve the experience for your entire audience. What ever you are doing, whether you’re publishing Web, apps, PDF, Office, InDesign, or eLearning, we’re eager to help.

Web Accessibility Matters: Why Should We Care

For a fully keyboard-accessible alternative for these videos, either view it in Chrome or any Android or iOS device, view in Firefox with the YouTube ALL HTML5 add-on installed, or disable Flash in current Internet Explorer.

What we can do for you

Web and document accessibility for disabilities is our most practical example of how doing good is also good business, and so we’ve made it a specialty. That’s why governments in 4 countries, private sector companies, and NGOs use our strategies on what to do and how to do it.

Analyse: We review your online presence and products for gap and risk analysis, as to what degree your sites and documents comply with federal, provincial and state regulations. We can help you develop the document development and remediation strategy best for your jurisdiction, documents, and audiences, increasing compliance while reducing costs.

For large groups of documents, we can alternately develop a custom engine or content management system that will force documents to be compliant as they are created, automatically generating author- and user-accessible documents that comply with specific target assistive technologies (e.g. Daisy, Kurzweil, Read&Write) or platforms (e.g. Blackboard) while driving down document development and management costs.

Train + Motivate: We motivate and train your team as to why Web accessibility matters, and how to get it done, demystifying regulations into satisfying easy-to-follow steps. We provide public and onsite courses and manuals, as well as one-on-one coaching using your documents.

Remediation: We can fix your documents or programming code if you don’t have the time or resources … or coach your team if you do. We can remediate your HTML, Word, PowerPoint, Excel, InDesign, LiveCycle/Adobe AEM Forms, Google Docs, or PDF files, to comply with WCAG, AODA, or PDF/UA standards. Our service includes remediation and verification.

Test + Certify: Finally, we execute technical and user testing (including coaching you on remaining gaps then retesting), and provide a WCAG-EM compliant formal report and expert opinion letter (our certifications have a 100% track record in courts of law), and certificate of your degree of compliance so you can demonstrate your compliance to others… for regulators, for clients, for users, for society.

Read our white paper on why accessibility matters if you’d like to get a better sense of our philosophy regarding inclusive design.

Web Accessibility Matters video series

Part 1: Why Should We Care

To view the other segments of this Web Accessibility Matter video series: Web Accessibility videos

In the recent Jodhan federal court challenge in Canada, Statistics Canada was able to successfully defend their work, pulling up the report we prepared for them for the online census that demonstrated their compliance with Treasury Board regulations.

When Montreal’s eXplorance needed to demonstrate to NASA that their enterprise Blue product complied with the U.S. Government’s Section 508 and ADA requirements (and Australia’s WCAG 2.0 requirements), we trained their team, then provided them proof of their compliance.

And we can help you as well.


We have a dedicated team of over 15 accessibility professionals, including strategists, subject matter and regulatory experts, information architects, designers, writers, editors, developers, trainers, and testers. More on the team.


We are experts in the fulfillment of AODA, WCAG, PDF/UA, and ADA/Section 508 requirements for accessible Web and documents. We have performed accessibility audits and reviews on both government and private sector websites in over 35 countries for Tim Berners-Lee’s World Wide Web Foundation.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 508

It is our specialty to produce to accommodate all aspects of ADA and Section 508 legislation, as it applies (both in regulation and in case law) to government, business, and other institutions.

We are experts in the fulfillment of Section 508 and ADA requirements regarding accessible documents, Web publishing, and distance learning. As such, we have provided counsel and coaching to members of the U.S. government, major financial institutions, Fortune 500 companies, and leading colleges regarding meeting and exceeding requirements, while mitigating risks.

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA)

It is our standard procedure to comply with all relevant requirements of the accessibility standards called for in the regulations under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (AODA).

We are experts in the fulfillment of AODA regulations regarding accessible documents and Web publishing, as well as non-IT areas. Our strength in this area is such that we run regular courses in Ontario that specifically teach executives, managers, educators, designers, and developers how to comply with AODA regulations. The Accessibility Directorate of Ontario itself (who governs AODA) has retained us repeatedly for speaking at their events and for training of their managers and staff.

International Association of Accessibility Professional (IAAP)

In 2016, David received his certification as a Certified Professional in Accessibility Core Competencies (CPACC) for fulfilling prescribed standards, passing a rigorous examination, and committing to ongoing professional development in the accessibility industry.

2017 IAAP Certified Professional in Web Accessibility certificate for David Berman

2016 IAAP certificate for David Berman

2017 IAAP Web Accessibility Specialist certificate for David Berman

PDF standards

David Berman is a member of the ISO committee that has developed the international standard for accessible PDF (PDF/UA). We have provided training on strategizing, developing and testing accessible PDF files, including Adobe employees, and at Adobe headquarters. We run regular public courses that team Web teams how to create accessible documents, whether starting from Word, Powerpoint, Excel, Illustrator, InDesign, or LiveCycle Designer.

Corporations and private sector

Our private sector clients for accessibility, training, and document remediation work include Actuate, Adobe, AMI TV, Blindside Networks, BMO (Bank of Montreal), Bruce Mau Design, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Cherwell Corporation, Cogbooks, Conference Board of Canada, DNB Bank, Empire Life, eXplorance, gordongroup, IBM, Itslearning, Honda, Lixar, Lockheed-Martin, Minto, OpenText, Oxford Properties, Shaw Media, Syngenta, The Home Depot, TD Bank, Tom Ford, TV2, Vizrt, and Yamaha Music.

Government accessibility

We have been involved with Government of Canada Treasury Board standards on accessibility for over a decade, including authoring the multi-year accessibility strategy for the Canadian Human Rights Commission. We have provided training to most major departments and agencies in the federal government … as well as governments in Australia, Bahrain, India, Malaysia, Mexico, Norway, and Oman.

Federal government clients include Agriculture and Agrifood Canada, Auditor-General of Canada, Canada Council, Canada Revenue Agency, Canadian Armed Forces, Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Canadian Human Rights Commission, Corrections Canada, Department of Canadian Heritage, Elections Canada, FINTRAC, Health Canada, National Research Council, Office of the Commissioner of Judicial Affairs, Parks Canada, PWGSC, Statistics Canada, Transportation Safety Board, Treasury Board Secretariat, and Veterans Affairs.

We have also provided consultation to the governments of Ontario (including the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario office itself, LCBO, Ministry of Community Services Ontario, Ministry of Education, Ministry of the Environment, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Transportation, OMAFRA, and Tourism Ontario) and Manitoba.

Municipalities, counties, and school boards

Our clients for consulting and training have included a variety of municipalities, counties and public institutions (including the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, City of Burlington, City of Cambridge, County of Essex, City of Hamilton, Norfolk County, City of Oakville, City of Ottawa, City of Owen Sound, City of Peterborough, City of Toronto, County of Wellington, Halton District School Board, Hamilton-Wentworth School Board, Limestone District School Board, OC Transpo, Niagara Parks Commission, Ottawa-Carleton District School Board, Region of Peel, Toronto Transit Commission, Windsor-Essex County Health Unit).

Higher education/academia

Clients benefitting from our consultation, speaking/training and accessibility tools include a variety of colleges and universities within Canada (including Algonquin College, Brock University, Carleton University, McMaster University, OCAD University, Seneca College, St. Lawrence College, University of Toronto, University of Waterloo, W. Ross MacDonald School for the Blind, York University), the United States (Boston College, California State University, Ohio State University, University of Nevada, Savannah College of Art and Design, Southeast Community College, Virginia Commonwealth University) and beyond (Cardiff Metropolitan University, London School of Printing and Publishing, Universidad de las Americas, Yarmouk University, Bauhaus / Anhalt University of Applied Sciences, Binus University, Caldas University, Central Academy of Fine Arts of China, Federal University of Pernambuco, Lebanese American University, Vilnius Academy of Arts, VCU Qatar).

David is Chair of Carleton University’s Carleton Access Network for accessible information technology, run out of Carleton University’s Paul Menton Centre for Students with Disabilities as an initiative of the School of Engineering.

David is an adjunct professor at the Inclusive Design Research Centre of Toronto’s OCAD University.


Our NGO clients include Tim Berners-Lee’s World Wide Web Foundation and many other examples: Advertising Standards Council of Canada, Canadian Marketing Association, Canadian Medical Association, Canadian Nurses Association, CHEO, College of Occupational Therapists of Ontario, Cornwall Community Hospital, Editors Association of Canada, G3ICT, Manitoba Library Association, Maryland Coalition for Inclusive Education, Norwegian Computing Society, Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association, Toronto Transit Commission, United Way.


Federal judge’s decision in the Jodhan case (2010 Nov 29, PDF).

Watch David Berman speak about universal design (“design for all”)

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA): opens in a new browser windowAODA Integrated Accessibility Standards (Ontario Regulation 191/11, April 2011)

More resources on accessible design

Frequently asked questions

Q. “How many WCAG 2.0 Level A success criteria are there?”

WCAG 2.0 has 25 Level A success criteria.

Q. “How many WCAG 2.0 Level AA success criteria are there?”

WCAG 2.0 has 13 Level AA success criteria.

Q. “How many WCAG 2.0 Level AAA success criteria are there?”

WCAG 2.0 has 23 Level AAA success criteria.

Q. “What is first change the laws or change the practice? It looks like is very difficult to introduce changes in literacy without affecting rights and laws.” 

It is true that regulations exist that force us to use unclear language. However there are far more cases where we have the freedom to model clearer communication. By doing the latter whenever feasible, I’m confident we’ll widen our sphere of influence… which itself will speed improvements to regulations.

Q. “How is being drunk a disability?” 

Being drunk is not a disability. Being drunk is an impairment. Whether permanent or temporary, disabilities, impairments, and handicaps can all be mitigated by universal design.

Q. “How do you uncover bias in design?”

There are many ways. My favourite would be starting with a clear strategic charter for each project that both defines precisely the demographics of the audience and also plans for early usability testing as part of the work plan.

Q. “Can you talk a little more about how cognitive burden or load impacts accessibility and usability?”

We all enjoy being in flow. And because we rarely have the opportunity to customize our communications for each individual audience member, we have the challenge of making our communications both intriguing and clear… so we don’t lose anyone.

Essentially, the rules of cognitive load differ for the same message, if it is being heard versus if it is being seen. If I am reading a sentence, I know that I can move at a high speed, confident that if I get puzzled, I can go back and re-read. However, if I am hearing a sentence in realtime, I have to be more attentive if I won’t be able to rewind… as well, I am more apt to try to anticipate what comes next: which means that primacy of word order helps the likelihood that I will successfully anticipate what comes next .

Images help give context to a sighted user, but alternative text of such images that are heard by someone who cannot see and that add no useful content are arguably just in the way of the message, with the duplication being more burdensome than helpful.

I have much more to say about this – give me a call and we can discuss it further 🙂

Q. “Could you please mention to typeface that works better for dyslexics?” 

There are several typefaces that have been developed specifically with a dyslexic audience in mind. Some are quite overt, while others are subtle enough for mainstream use. The typeface I show in my slides is called Read Regular.

Q. “What are some important questions I can ask myself or my team to better consider the needs of others.”

Perhaps the most important question to ask ourselves is this: “Is there a reason we don’t want to communicate with everyone? If not, then why aren’t we?”

Q. “Can you discuss why it is important to create accessible downloadable documents from websites?”

Accessible documents are just as important as accessible webpages (especially if the content is not replicated elsewhere in an accessible format) …for every reason a typical user would need or enjoy having offline content available.

Q. “What is WCAG 2.0?”

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are part of a series of web accessibility guidelines published by the Web Accessibility Initiative of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), which I’m proudly a part of. W3C is the main international standards organization for the Internet.

WCAG 2.0 covers a wide range of recommendations for making Web content more accessible. Following these guidelines will make content accessible to a wider range of people with disabilities.

Got anymore questions? Visit www.davidberman.com/about/contactus/

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Reviewed April 7, 2015

8 Responses to “Accessibility”

  1. John says:

    Hi David,

    I watched you present via Skype last year at a universal design and accessibility conference in Dublin and I found your approach, ideas and suggestions really interesting and useful. In my current organisation we are currently auditing and looking to improve the accessibly of our digital services which brought me back to your website.

    I came across Browsealoud through a different conference in Dublin and I see you have it installed on your own website. We are considering installing browsealoud or reciteme on our website and I would really appreciate your opinion on the use of browser based screen readers/accessibility plugins, what they can offer to our users and more importantly what you think they lack?

    As more and more content is consumed in browsers it is a natural progression that web developers like myself attempt to replicate/replace the software based screen-reader like Jaws with website/application based solutions like browsealoud. One issue I think we need to overcome is how can we standardise the UI so the user will not need to learn how to use it on arrival to the site (presuming they haven’t seen/used it before).

    As a web developer I am “pro website” and making them as functionally sound and intuitive for every user with a range of abilities though new web technologies and methodologies. WGAC2.0 covers many guidelines but I approach the already established functionality of a screen reader, which I imagine would be so familiar to their users , with very little knowledge and I would be really interested to hear your views on how you would like to see these sort of website based reader/accessibility plugins progress and mature as we start to build and integrate them into websites.

    I realise this is a very broad question but any thoughts or discussion would be welcome!

    Many thanks and Regards,


    • David Berman says:

      Hi John, it’s good to hear from you.
      I’m pleased to explore this with you: however probably best unpacked on a phone call, if that works for you? If so, email me or call us to set up a time? (see our Contact Us page for contact details).
      Happy St. Patrick’s Day! We miss Dublin… especially today! – David

  2. Sarah Green says:

    Hello David,
    My name is Sarah Green and I’m a communications editor for a media company here in Denver. We’re interested in going through in-depth training (beyond basic 508 compliance training). Do you offer such training? We primarily work with PDFs, web content and graphic design elements.

  3. Ashley S says:

    Hi David,
    Do you have any suggestions for accessible Captchas for use on email forms? We have built a custom captcha which displays random numbers in a div with a checkered, moving background, however we want to ensure it is accessible by screen readers. Do you have suggestions as to labeling divs to ensure screen readers will catch the captcha verification code, or are there open source ones you recommend? We looked at reCaptcha, but as persons with a normal range of hearing, we were unable to decipher the code when using the audio option.

    • David Berman says:

      Hi Ashley, I’d be pleased to look at your particular example to help you choose well. Working “blind” I would have thought that ReCaptcha would be a very fine choice, as its audio equivalent complies with WCAG recommended techniques. I’m sure we can sort it out. Please send me a link … you can use our davidberman.com/contactus page to do so.

      • David Berman says:

        Hi Ashley… another idea: I think you should consider textCAPTCHA (www.textCAPTCHA.com) as your solution. It will avoid your having to use recaptcha and it is fully accessible re visual and audio disabilities (though could prove challenging for some cognitive or developmental challenges).

  4. Ashley S says:

    Q. Accessible links for media releases

    Hi David, I recently attended your session on Web Accessibility at the Manitoba Library Conference, and found it very useful – I walked away with a number of points I know we need to improve upon on our website!

    One question I have is around links. As a government organization we put out a number of media releases, and use a standard format for those releases, which get posted to our website. My question is when Communications staff draft the media release, and point readers to a specific web page or PDF, they use the entire link in the body of the release.
    For more information on this issue, call 204-123-4567 or visit: http://website.ca/web/pdfs/File%20Name%20Checklist.pdf

    We then post it verbatim to our website in that same format. My understanding is that complex links such as long URLs are difficult for screen readers to verbalize. I am wondering if, in your travels and work with other government organizations, you have come across internal style guidelines that include web accessibility forethought, and state something along the lines that full URLs should not be used, including in media releases?

    • David Berman says:

      Hi Ashley,

      It’s very good to hear from you, and I’m pleased to hear that you found our Winnipeg course so useful!

      Your question is an excellent one, and fortunately I’m confident I have a very workable answer for you…

      First of all, your media relations team would be wise to create what we call “friendly URLs” for URLs they are explicitly promoting.
      For instance, your example http://website.ca/web/pdfs/File%20Name%20Checklist.pdf could get a friendly alias such as http://www.website.ca/checklist-pdf .
      The friendly alias is easier to remember (for instance if driving past a billboard), easier to transcribe without errors, and can even help with search engine optimization. How depends on how your site is built, however it’s rarely difficult: For example in php, you simply have to add a row to the .htaccess table. In WordPress, we use the Redirections plugin.

      Now, regarding screen readers, while it’s true that long URLs sound especially horrible when announced, the best practise is to avoid technical-sounding URLs being read out loud. Instead, whenever the anchor text (that’s the text most people see) won’t be clear enough (which of course is especially true in your example where the anchor text is a URL rather than human language), we include a TITLE attribute in the HTML with a clearer description of the link (e.g. TITLE=’Licorice Checklist’). This causes screen readers to typically not announce the URL at all: instead the TITLE would be announced. (Of course, this works with many assistive technologies, not just screen readers … and may even improve your search engine optimization as well!)

      So, in terms of a guideline, here’s my recommendation:
      – use TITLE attributes whenever link text won’t be clear enough to assistive technologies
      – Avoid visible URLs in anchor text, except when you want people to learn a URL (e.g. amazon.com or a friendly URL)
      – whenever you expect a document to be presented in a context where a link critical to your strategic goal can’t be actioned (for example within a printed document, a PDF or HTML that will likely be printed out, a billboard, or an email which may be shared with others as text only), then replace cryptic URLs with friendly URLs.

      There are more best practices around the use of TITLE, in terms of warning users about new pages, and avoiding abbreviations … however that is another topic.

      Does that cover all of your concerns, and clear enough?

      Warm regards, David

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