10 Tips for Creating Accessible Course Content

Note: These tips are a starting point for creating accessible course content; for additional information or if questions arise, please contact Robert Erichsen, Access Specialist at rerichsen@miracosta.edu

  1. Accessibility Statement added to syllabus. Include: 1) Disability Accommodations statement; 2) Links to vendor accessibility information for specialty products used in your course.
    Resources: MiraCosta’s syllabus checklist has examples of recommended language.
  2. Semantic Structure (or Styles) always used to create structure in Word, Open Office, HTML, etc. Heading 1 for Document Title; Heading 2 for all Section Titles; Heading 3 for all Sub-section Titles. Also, Strong (structural equivalent of bold); Emphasis (structural equivalent of italics). Other Style types are available, as needed. Table of Contents should be provided based on the Heading structure; Table of Figures, if needed.
    Resources: Making Headers in MS Word
    Creating Accessible Documents Word (WebAIM)
  3. True Formatting in Documents through use of bulleted or numbered lists, true columns, and true tables instead of using returns, spaces, or tabs to create faux structure.
    Resources: Creating Accessible Documents Word (WebAIM)
  4. Ensure Readability Divide large blocks of text into smaller more manageable sections; avoid complex sentences; use sans-serif font at approximately 12 points.
    Resources: http://juicystudio.com/services/readability.php
  5. Text Equivalents (ALT Text) for every non-text element such as image, chart or graph. A clear, concise description 100 characters or less that is provided via Format Picture. If ALT text alone is insufficient, provide Long Description in surrounding text or as separate document.
    Resources: Creating Accessible Word Documents
    Adding Alt Text to an Image in Word 2013 (You Tube video)
  6. Avoid Color Coding Color alone should not be the sole means of conveying important information.
    Resources: http://www.jimthatcher.com/webcourse7.htm
  7. Sufficient Color Contrast between foreground and background elements. Also, background does not overpower text (e.g. PowerPoint, Web page, etc.)
  8. Descriptive Hyperlinks must make sense out of context; avoid vague descriptions like “Click Here” or “Email Me”. Avoid using the URL. Instead, hyperlink text should describe the destination: website name, document name, or other resource.
    Resources: http://www.webaim.org/techniques/hypertext/
  9. Accessibility Checkers: always use the software’s built-in Accessibility Checker (UDOIT in Canvas, Word, Open Office, Adobe Acrobat, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.). Follow the Repair recommendations provided by the Accessibility Checker to fix errors.
    Resources: Check for Accessibility Issues in Microsoft Office
    Check for Accessibility Issues in Adobe Acrobat
  10. Multimedia a) Audio-only: provide Text Transcript; b) Video-only provide Video Description (text description of key visual elements); c) Audio+Video provide Closed Captions, Text Transcript, and Video Description. Note: Text Transcript and Video Description can be combined in one file.
    Resources:  Request DECT captioning directly when you upload your videos to 3C Media Solutions.
    Creating Subtitles and Closed Captions on Your YouTube Videos

Additional Resources

  • UDOIT – Automated accessibility check and guide within Canvas
  • Basics Accessibility in MS Word Documents – In this video you will learn how to apply heading styles, alt text, and table headers to your MS Word document to provide a baseline of accessibility.
  • Save MS Word as and Accessible PDF –  In this video you will learn how to save your accessible MS Word document as an accessible PDF document.