Creating accessible resources is crucial to make sure that everyone, including those with disabilities, can access and understand the content.
Below is a list of accessibility requirements and good practices.
- Use clear and simple language. Write in plain language to help more people understand more quickly. Avoid jargon and complex language.
- Make documents available 24 hours before teaching. This will give students time to prepare, particularly those with Disability Advisory Support Service (DASS) support plans.
- Add document properties. Fill in document properties. These are details such as the title, author, and keywords that identify the document’s topic or contents. This metadata can help users and search engines to understand the document. Within Word, these can be found by navigating to File > Properties and selecting the Summary tab.
- Consider ‘universal design for learning’ (UDL). ‘Universal design for learning’ is a useful framework which can be used to consider the accessibility of learning materials.
Top tips for creating documents, or presentations
- Use easily readable fonts. Choose sans-serif fonts (e.g., Arial, Calibri, Helvetica and Verdana) for better readability. Do not use italics or underlining; use bold text instead.
- Add alternative text to all images. The ‘alt text’ should convey essential information that the image is communicating (for more information, see WebAIM’s ‘Alternative text’ guidance).
- Use descriptive hyperlinks. Instead of ‘click here’, use meaningful text. Screen readers often provide a list of links, so make sure they make sense out of context.
- Check the colour contrast. Use a tool like WebAIM’s Contrast Checker to make sure that there is high contrast between text and background colours. Do not use only colour to convey meaning; make sure that text is also used.
- Create accessible tables. Use in-built ‘table’ tools (instead of using the tab key to make your own). Include headers for rows and columns to make data understandable. Make the rows alternate colours.
- Create accessible lists. Use built-in tools to create lists (instead of using your own formatting, e.g., with hyphens or tabs).
- Use the in-built Accessibility Checker. An accessibility checker is a tool that can be found within some software. It can be used to check if your content is accessible, and you can make changes according to the information it presents.
Tips for creating documents, including Microsoft Word Docs and PDFs
- Use easily readable font sizes. Use font size 12 for body text.
- Use headings and subheadings. Use the formatting options within the software to classify text as a ‘heading’ or ‘subheading’. This helps assistive technologies understand the document’s structure.
- Minimise the use of text boxes. Text boxes can be challenging for assistive technologies to interpret. If used, make sure the text box content is accessible.
- Create a logical reading order (for PDFs). Choose Tools > Accessibility > Reading order. Firstly, mark up the figures and paragraphs, then the background/artefacts (decorative images) and headings.
- Give navigation assistance. Use a clear and consistent structure in your document. Use the “navigation pane” for easy navigation, making sure that the content reads logically when using a screen reader. For longer documents, consider creating a table of contents and bookmarks.
- Use page breaks instead of multiple enters. Use page breaks to separate content logically instead of relying on multiple line breaks. This helps maintain a consistent reading order.
Tips for creating presentations, including PowerPoint
- Use easily readable fonts and font sizes. Use at least 18 for body text and at least 24 for slide titles.
- Use descriptive slide titles. Each slide’s title should be descriptive, unique and concise.
- Use simple and consistent design. Minimise the amount of text on each slide. Avoid distracting animations and transitions. Use a consistent layout and design throughout the presentation. Don’t nest tables within tables.
- Consider your user of colour. Ensure that colour is not the only means of conveying information, and use sufficient contrast for text and important graphics.
- Check reading order. Ensure that the content is logically ordered, especially when you add elements such as text boxes, Smart Art and multimedia.
- Consider your format. Are you making use of images, diagrams, audio and video content to support learning?
Tips for creating videos
- Add captions and a transcript. If you are creating your own subtitles, check out the university’s guidance on ‘Subtitling video content’.
- Check auto-generated content for accuracy. This is especially important because the Video Portal is known to produce inaccurate and even offensive material.
Tips for creating forms and surveys
- Add text descriptions for form fields. If you have forms, add text descriptions for form fields. Assistive technologies can use this information to guide users through the form.
- Digital inclusion pages on StaffNet (Communications, Marketing and Student Recruitment) – This includes a list of drop-in sessions where you can get advice on your own teaching materials
- Making accessible teaching content pages on StaffNet (Institute for Teaching and Learning)
- Designing for accessibility – Accessibility posters (UK Home Office)
- Plain English Campaign’s free guides
- CAST’s UDL guidelines
- Queen Mary’s application of UDL to higher education
- Imperial College London’s guidance on ‘Writing descriptive links’
- WebAIM’s Contrast Checker
- Silktide’s Disability Simulator for the Web (Chrome only)
- Microsoft’s guidance on its Accessibility Checker
- JISC – Meeting accessibility regulations – This includes ‘accessibility clinics’ which you can attend (online) to obtain advice.
HUMEL0254 Alternative Text Workshop
Led by the Faculty of Humanities eLearning team, this workshop will discuss what Alternative Text is, when to use it and why it’s vital for us to add it to our learning materials to ensure our digital spaces are inclusive to everyone. We will also go through how to add Alternative Text to images in commonly used tools such as Blackboard, Microsoft Word and Powerpoint. Book a place using the Training Catalogue.
We would love to get your feedback on this page – please contact us using this MS Feedback Form for Quick Checks: Accessibility
Page written and reviewed by Megan Broadbent, Helen Davies, Steve Ellis, Agatha Fayette, Rachel Heyes, Rhiannon Knowles, Christopher Sutton, FBMH eLearning Team. December 2023.