Advance Inclusion – Think Accessibility
Accessibility is everyone’s responsibility. Understanding how to create communications and resources that are accessible from the start is an important part of promoting equity and inclusion. UW Bothell IT is spotlighting five strategies and sharing useful tips for how to be more accessible and inclusive in how we create digital content.
Strategy #1: Creating Accessible Announcements
Everyone loves a good picture, but using images alone to communicate information can prevent those with cognitive disabilities or visual impairments from connecting with your content. When sending emails or announcements, adopt a “text-first” approach.
- Make text the primary way you convey information. Use images to reinforce text and provide visual appeal and always include a concise alt text description, even in Outlook messages.
- Avoid using images of text as much as possible. If sharing an infographic or poster, provide a separate accessible text version of the document as part of the announcement.
- Another great option is to link to a webpage with the full message (text and images).
Strategy #2: Ramp up Access to Your Content
Ramps can make it easier to access physical spaces, particularly if we’re pushing a grocery cart or using a wheelchair. You can also build accessible “on ramps” into your digital content to help readers access the information they need, regardless of their level of ability.
- Structure your content using the built-in “headings” and “lists” features in whatever tool you’re using. For example, the headings and lists buttons you use to create accessible Word documents are similar to those used to create accessible Canvas pages.
- Use tables wisely. Sometimes lists or columns are all that’s needed to organize information. If you need to use a table, format it with headers and avoid merging cells.
- Take advantage of built-in accessibility checkers in Canvas, Word and PowerPoint.
Strategy #3: Color, Contrast, and Font, Oh my!
Color, contrast, and font can help make information pop and grab readers’ attention. Thinking carefully about how we use these elements can ensure that our messages are accessible by those with visual or cognitive impairments and can make information more legible for all readers.
- Pair color with some other form of emphasis. In addition to color, emphasize the text with italics or bolding, or set it apart with symbols like asterisks (*). Avoid using underlining so that your text isn’t mistaken for a link.
- Help your colors work together by using sufficient contrast to distinguish text from the background. A contrast checker can help you evaluate if the contrast is at the right level.
- Use sans serif fonts like Helvetica, Arial, Calibri, or Verdana to make your text more accessible, especially to dyslexic readers.
Strategy #4: Inclusive presentations start with accessibility
Presentations, meetings and lectures are opportunities to learn and share. When we’re meeting, we should not assume that everyone in the room brings the same abilities to the table. Foster equity and inclusion by developing materials and experiences that are accessible from the start.
- Format your slides using built-in layouts, unique slide titles and logical reading order.
- If you are the host, turn on automatic captions in Zoom or Microsoft Teams to provide attendees with the option of viewing live captions.
- Verbally describe your visual materials while you’re presenting. For example, “This graph shows fluctuations in the price of X over the last 5 years, with a peak price occurring in 2018.”
- Edit the captions from Zoom, Panopto and YouTube recordings if you plan to share them with others.
Strategy #5: Are your PDFs accessible?
For those with visual and cognitive impairments, “PDF” might seem like an acronym for “pretty darn frustrating.” PDFs create significant barriers for those who need to use screen readers and other assistive technology. Regardless of ability, PDFs can be really hard to read for a variety of reasons. How can you be sure your PDFs will be accessible?
- First ask: “Does this need to be a PDF?” Word documents and web-based content, such as Canvas or web pages, are inherently more accessible.
- If you must use a PDF, create an accessible Word document first, check your document for accessibility, and then check your PDFs for accessibility.
- If you can, link to the Library’s digitized version of articles or book chapters (see Faculty Services Guide) you want to use. If those are not available, take the time to create high quality scans and avoid image PDFs.
Thanks for doing your part to create accessible digital resources that provide access to all. If you have more questions about how to create accessible digital content, please email UW Bothell IT.