The Internet, emails, videos, pdfs, podcasts—such electronic information tools can be an important part of a graduate education. But remember:
- Not everyone has the ability to see and read text; some rely on computer programs to read text aloud to them.
- Not everyone can hear; some rely on subtitles to understand what is going in an video.
- Not everyone can use a mouse; some rely on websites that can be easily navigated by keyboard or voice control.
The information and links on these pages offer a brief introduction to making electronic materials accessible to the widest possible audience.
Here are some key rules to keep in mind.
No. 1: Don’t use text that is just a picture.
If you create a message with text in an image-editing program such as Paint, Canva, or Photoshop and then turn it into a file and paste it into an email or post it to the web, you’ve created something that people who use screen readers can’t read.
This is not ADA-compliant; it violates federal guidelines for accessibility.
The same goes for using Powerpoint, Publisher or InDesign, and exporting to a .jpg, .png, or .gif file. The end product is, again, not readable by screen readers.
No.2: Use alternative text for images.
When you use pictures on the web or in an electronic document such as those generated by Microsoft Word, include alternative text to explain what the picture is.
No. 3: Don’t use video without subtitles. Don’t use audio without transcripts.
This is fairly self-explanatory, but a lot of work.
No. 4: Keep design and layouts simple.
Part of the reason people create their messages in Photoshop or Powerpoint is they want the messages to look a certain way. But the desire to use a certain design needs to weighed against the need to make the message accessible to those with disabilities.
You wouldn’t want to create a fancy storefront display that also has a sign saying, “Disabilities Not Welcome Here.” But that’s exactly what happens when design is put before accessibility.
WAVE Web Accessibility Tool for Web Pages
Paste the web address of your page here, and you’ll be able to see exactly what accessibility issues it may have.
Adobe Acrobat Pro for PDFs
Use this guide to check your PDFs for accessibility and fix any issues that come up.
Start With a Template
Download this Word template to get a head start creating accessible PDFs.
Color Contrast Checker
WebAim widget helps make sure that colored type and backgrounds have a contrast ratio high enough to be read by people with vision issues.
WebAIM (Web Accessibility In Mind) at the Center for Persons with Disabilities at Utah State University has created an excellent website with many valuable resources on making electronic resources accessible to people with disabilities. At a minimum, please take the time to read the introductory page linked above.
Accessibility Tips for Web Design
If you are responsible for updating content on CMC’s websites, you must familiarize yourself with at least the “Beginner Topics” sections on this page.
An online guide with clear explanations—at beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels—about issues with creating ADA-compliant pages.
WebAIM’s Guide to Creating Accessible Documents in Microsoft Word
A comprehensive online guide to using Microsoft Word to create accessible PDFs.