Writing with accessibility in mind means that you are trying to ensure that your content can be read and understood by as wide an audience as possible.
View the resources below for some basic guidelines when creating documents. It is good practice to get into the habit of planning with accessibility in mind from the start. These skills will be invaluable in the workplace & on placements as new regulations mean all public sector organisations have a legal duty to make sure public facing websites and internally shared content meet accessibility requirements.
Creating Accessible Word Documents
Microsoft Word has many features built-in that help people with different abilities to read and author documents.
It is important you understand how to make you documents accessible at the point of creation.
The following guidelines will help you make your documents more accessible from the outset:
- Use built-in headings & styles to add structure to your documents and use in a logical order Heading 1, Heading 2 etc – Microsoft video tutorial ‘Don’t change font use Quick Styles‘.
- Add descriptive Alternative Text (alt text) to images, shapes and charts to help those who use screen readers (right click on image and select edit alt text).
- Ensure there is sufficient contrast between the font colour and the background colour. E.g. black font on a pale background is a good contrast.
- Font size: use good contrasts and a readable font size, 14 point is recommended (fonts of 12 pt size are considered small) and choose a ‘sans serif’ font which is easier for most people to read such as Arial, Verdana, Calibri, Universe and Helvetica (Abilitynet more about Point size).
- Use meaningful hyperlink text and screen tips. Links should convey clear and accurate information about the destination rather than saying ‘click here’ or similar. For example: ‘Visit the Making MS Word Documents Accessible page for more information’.
- Use a simple table and structure, specify column and header information.
- Use Bold to emphasise items and avoid italics & underlining.
- Use accessible file names in Microsoft Word.
- Use bulleted or numbered lists to help break up text.
- Do not use colour or spatial position as the only way to convey content or meaning.
Colour Contrast Checker
Having sufficient contrast between foreground and background colours is an essential part of usability in general and accessibility in particular. WebAim’s Colour Contrast Checker is a tool that calculates the contrast between two colours and automatically evaluates the returned value against the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.
Use WebAim’s Link Contrast Checker to evaluate links that are identified using colour alone.
Optional Colour Contrast Analyser with built-in Colour Picker tool: Colour Contrast Analyser Portable.
Creating Accessible PowerPoint Slides
You can make your PowerPoint slides accessible by following a few best practices. PowerPoint comes with a large selection of accessible templates, these can save you lots of time as accessible templates already have the right colours for contrast & have simple easy to read fonts.
However, you may want to improve your own PowerPoint files, here are some of the more common issues you can improve and repair:
- Correct content reading order.
- Make charts, graphs, and images accessible.
- Using colour, style and templates to improve PowerPoint accessibility.
- Use readable fonts and good design for clearer and easier comprehension.
- Creating a Word document version of your PowerPoint.
Colour Contrast Checker
- Having sufficient contrast between foreground and background colours is an essential part of usability in general and accessibility in particular. WebAim’s Colour Contrast Checkeris a tool that calculates the contrast between two colours and automatically evaluates the returned value against the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) recommend minimum levels for colour contrast between text and background..
- Use WebAim’s Link Contrast Checkerto evaluate links that are identified using colour alone.
- Microsoft Office Video Tutorials – Getting started with Microsoft 365.
- Microsoft Office 365 Accessible Templates.
- The WebAIM site has a good section on PowerPoint Accessibility with step-by-step details.
- Take a look at this Microsoft page which has a step-by-step guide to Make your PowerPoint presentations accessible to people with disabilities.
- Take this LinkedIn Learning course on Creating accessible documents in Office.
- Read more about setting the reading order of slide contents.
Working with PDFs
PDF’s can be created either by scanning a physical copy or by converting files from other sources such as Word or PowerPoint.
eShare guides – Accessible PDFs
This collection of guides will help you produce PDF documents that are accessible for those who rely on assistive technology to use and understand your content.
Converting to PDFs
Where possible, make your source document accessible before converting to a PDF. Doing this will save considerable time and effort.
Don’t use the Print to PDF option, use Save As or Export to create your PDF. Click Options and make sure the Document Structure tags for accessibility check box is selected, and then click ok.
Adobe Acrobat DC
If the original source document is not available, accessibility features can sometimes be added to the PDF using Adobe Acrobat Pro DC. Take a look at the Using Acrobat Pro Accessibility Checker for a guide on how to use the software.
For complete instructions on how to make documents accessible and repair the accessibility tag structure of a document refer to the Adobe Acrobat Pro DC Accessibility Repair Workflow.
- Microsoft has a page on how to Create Accessible PDFs in Office.
- Take this LinkedIn Learning course on Creating Accessible PDF documents using Acrobat Pro DC. Although the course is over 4 hours long you can jump to the sections you are interested in.
- YouTube video: Create Accessible PDFs from Word in Adobe Acrobat.
Ally & Using Alternative Formats
To support our commitment to a more inclusive campus, in Jan 2019 we introduced a new tool called Ally!
Ally helps students get the most from their course resources by automatically converting course resources into a variety of formats, from HTML and e-book for reading on mobile devices, to Electronic Braille for the visually impaired, and audio for learning on the go.
Alternative formats provide greater opportunities for everyone to access the information they need in the way they need or want it. With alternative formats all students can meet the same learning objectives using resources that are built to target the needs of the individual student. For example, students have converted lecture slides to audio, listening to them during their commute and to help them revise.
In your course you will notice an icon to the right of the majority of files. Select this icon and then select Alternative Formats. You can then choose the version that is best for you & select ‘Download’. This short video on Ally for Students will demonstrate how.
Learning Services has invested in a product called Caption.Ed that is available for our learners to use. Caption.Ed provides live automatic captions through the Google Chrome Browser.
Easy to use and install, the Caption.Ed app sits on your browser. When you need to view media simply click on Caption.Ed icon and you’ll be provided with easy to read, accurate captions on screen.
You can use Caption.Ed for live Blackboard Collaborate Session and pre-recorded content within you Blackboard Course.
To request your free Captioned Account email firstname.lastname@example.org.
We want to provide the best possible support and advice to all students, so if you have other learning requirements which may not be met solely by captioning, please get in touch with the Inclusion Team. They will work with you to remove any barriers to learning you may have as a result of a medical condition, sensory impairment or other disability. The team can be contacted via email email@example.com. Find out more about what the Inclusion Team do.