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Creating Accessible Materials

The resources linked in the sections below provide information and instructions to help you create accessible materials for your clients. Specifically, they are focused on accessibility tools and resources and making Word documents, PowerPoint presentations, social media posts and PDF files accessible.

To gain a better understanding of why we need to create accessible web pages and what makes pages accessible, it's a good idea to start with the first section and specifically "World Wide Web (W3C) Web Accessibility." Please keep in mind that many times, good design goes hand in hand with good, accessible design.

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (WCAG 2.0) include 12 requirements organized under four principles -- perceivable, operable, understandable and robust. These guidelines were established as international standards to make web content more accessible to people with disabilities. The WCAG requirements are called "success criteria." For more information about the guidelines, please refer to the article "What is in WCAG 2.0."

Accessibility Tools and Resources

Making Word Documents Accessible

For many of us, creating a PDF file begins with creating a Word document. With that in mind, it makes sense to first make the Word document accessible before saving it as a PDF file. Then, any future edits to the file would be done in Word and then saved again as a PDF file. 

Please refer to Microsoft Word Creating Accessible Documents for more information.

To increase accessibility in your Word documents, focus on:

  • headings
  • alternative text for images
  • data tables
  • links
  • links and columns

Use the accessibility checker in Word (File, Check for Issues, Check Accessibility) to determine if your document is accessible by users.

Important Note: When saving files, give them appropriate names. This helps not only you, but also your clients.

Making PowerPoint Presentations Accessible

Please refer to PowerPoint Accessibility for help in making sure you are following the guidelines to make PowerPoint files accessible for your users.

Keep in mind that a PowerPoint file may need to be saved as a PDF file for it be made accessible. Also, the PowerPoint outline or notes features might help the user understand the content of a presentation. Another possible way to make your presentation accessible for different audiences is to create a narrated PowerPoint presentation. Learn more at the Microsoft resource "Record a slide show with narration and slide timings."

To increase accessibility in your PowerPoint presentation, focus on:

  • a theme or template with good contrast and a simple background
  • slide layouts
  • slide reading order
  • alternative text for images
  • tables
  • links

Important Note: When saving files, give them appropriate names. This helps not only you, but also your clients.

PDF Accessibility

While an accessible web page providing content is the preferred method to deliver information, sometimes a formatted (and easier to print) document including more information might be necessary.

Please refer to PDF Accessibility to make sure you understand how to make an accessible PDF file. The good news is that if you are competent making accessible files in Word, then you are more than halfway there! Then, just make sure you save it by using File, Save as Adobe PDF.

Use the Tools, Accessibility command in Adobe Acrobat DC to check a file's accessibility from within the software. You can fix any issues as they are identified. If a file originally created in Word or PowerPoint has many issues, you might want to make the changes in those applications (Word or PowerPoint) and then recreate the PDF file.

TIP: When linking to a PDF file on a page, you should include the download link for Adobe Reader ( near the top of the page as a convenience for the user.

Social Media and Accessibility

You usually can't add alternate text to images you post in social media, but you can describe the image in rich detail so that users with visual issues know what is happening in your post.

The article "Accessible Social Media" provides solutions and best practices to use when creating posts that are accessible (think "very descriptive text").

What to Include in Alternate Text

To make the content of an image, table or graph meaningful to someone with visibility issues, you should include text that accurately describes the unclear or unseen web page element.

Keep in mind that you should only include images relevant to the content of the web page or document -- regardless of whether your audience has vision issues or not.

  • Alt text should tell the user how the picture is relevant to the rest of the content.
  • Alt text should be concise.
  • Alt text should be entered as "alt text" in the method dictated by the software such as Word, Excel, Adobe Acrobat, etc.
  • Alt text should be entered when an image or graphic file is uploaded in CleanSlate.

Closed Captioning in YouTube

YouTube can help with the process of adding closed captioning to your uploaded videos. However, even though the process is a few clicks of the mouse, you need to preview your video to make sure YouTube has interpreted your audio correctly. Also, you need to edit the closed captions to add proper punctuation and capitalization.

Contact the Office of Communications for proper introductory and credit footage to properly brand and identify your videos. Communications may also give you suggestions to make your educational video more effective.

Should your video be available to the public, or should the video be unlisted? The latter type of video can still be viewed by a dispersed audience; you'll just need to share the web address with your clients.

Please refer to the resources listed below for help in making the videos you upload to YouTube not only accessible, but also understandable.