Making documents accessible will help ensure that everyone can use and read the materials you're creating.
How to make accessible materials
Accessibits - tips to help you build your own accessibility toolkit
- #1: Alt Text - Alt text (alternative text) is a textual description of an image. Alt text is displayed if the image fails to load and will be read when using assistive technology like screen readers. If you do not add alt text to images, a screen reader will often use the image file name or the URL which may not accurately represent the image. The description should be specific to the purpose and context in which the image is being displayed - think about what information is being conveyed in the picture and what the reader needs to know. Learn more about alt text, adding alt text in Word, and adding alt text in PowerPoint.
- #2: Headings - Headings are the labels given to each section title of your document/webpage/email; they provide structure by organizing the content into sections. Often, people use a bold or larger font to indicate section titles which provides a visual cue but does not allow those using assistive technology to navigate the page. By using headings and subheadings, a person using assistive technology can jump from section to section rather than read through all of the text to find what they need. Without headings, there is essentially one long stream of text that forces someone using assistive technology to navigate through from the start, rather than jump to what they need (imagine if you could only navigate a webpage by using the right and left arrow keys - no scroll bar, no up and down arrows!). Learn more about headings.
- #3: Scanned PDFs - Scanned PDFs are the most inaccessible type of document out there. They are simply images of text. To format text and build in the structure provided by headings, lists, etc. we must first convert scanned documents to text. In Adobe Acrobat, you have the ability to convert a scanned document to real text that can be searched and navigated by assistive technology. This is known as "OCR-ing" a document. Learn how to OCR PDFs with Acrobat. Bonus tip: When sending an email, the best practice is to copy the text from the PDF into the content box so it can be read by assistive technology. Then attach the “OCRed” PDF document.
SBCTC's Library of Accessibility Resources:
- Sign up for the SBCTC Accessibility Micro-courses - SBCTC offers a variety of accessibility-related micro-courses. Each course is approximately 3 hours in length and focuses on particular skills and/or content creation programs. Current micro-courses include: Understanding Accessibility, Accessible Design Concepts, Universal Design, Accessible Word Documents, Accessible PPT, Email Accessibility, Accessible PDFs, Canvas Accessibility. Participants are awarded with digital badges upon completion of each micro-course. Participants who complete five micro-courses (15 hours) will also receive a certificate from SBCTC.
- Council for Accessible Technology members support efforts to make electronic materials accessible. Contact CAT@olympic.edu to learn more.
- eLearning supports faculty in making course material accessible. Contact DistanceLearning@olympic.edu to learn more.
- For Canvas users, there is a built-in accessibility checker tool, Ally, that helps ensure that materials are accessible. Ally also provides students with alternative formats including HTML for mobile devices, ePub for e-book readers, Tagged PDF for assistive technology, Audio for listening, and Electronic Braille. Learn more about Blackboard Ally.
- Access Services for Students with Disabilities determines eligibility and coordinates accomodations and support services. Access Services partners with the Olympic College community to foster a college culture that recognizes disability as a valued aspect of diversity and is dedicated to the inclusion and full participation of students with disabilities in all college programs, services, and activities.
- Accessiblity webinars (SBCTC)
- View the recordings and resources for the Winter 2018 series of accessibility webinars that covered basics, documents, emails, PDFs, PowerPoints, Procurement, and STEM fields.
- ACCESS-WA: This blog is updated regularly by the accessibility team Washington State Board for Community & Technical Colleges. It's a good way to find out about free training and resources being offered to Washington educators.
- Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST): Another resource for better understanding UDL, featuring graphics, videos, downloadable documents and FAQs.
- Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking, and Technology (DO-IT) Center: This resource from the University of Washington is a great example of accessible work being done locally. The resources tab is especially helpful. The Creating Accessible Documents page on the UW site is also a favorite.
- National Center on Universal Design for Learning: An authority on UDL. This website provides informational overviews, as well as information on accessibility advocacy and implementation.
- Web Accessibility in Mind (WebAIM): Their resources are highly practical, including a color contrast checker and the Section 508 and WCAG 2.0 checklists.