Accessibility

Accessibility Guidelines

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a law that bans discrimination against people with disabilities. The ADA has several sections including 504 and 508 that directly impact higher education and online courses.  The ADA standards address access for people with physical and mental disabilities.

What does accessible mean?  The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights defines accessible this way:

"Accessible means a person with a disability is afforded the opportunity to acquire the same information, engage in the same interactions, and enjoy the same services as a person without a disability in an equally effective and equally integrated manner, with substantially equivalent ease of use. The person with a disability must be able to obtain the information as fully, equally, and independently as a person without a disability.” https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/investigations/11116002-b.html

As you create your online course, be aware that all content should be fully accessible for all students.  Files and documents should be formatted to meet accessibility guidelines.  Multimedia or videos should include a transcript or closed captioning.  Course pages should be designed using a clear, consistent layout.  If you use external webpages or other resources, it is your responsibility to ensure that they meet accessibility requirements.

Reference

OCR Resolution Agreement. (nd). Retrieved from: https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/investigations/11116002-b.html external link icon

The following tables provide information to help you create accessible courses.

Microsoft Word Document Accessibility

This table provides information to help ensure Word documents are accessible to all students.

Accessibility Guidelines How to Determine Accessibility How to Fix
Images, charts, and graphs important for student understanding are described via an alt-tag, long description, or audio description. Use the Microsoft Office Accessibility Checker external link icon to ensure that each image necessary for student learning contains alternative text.

Explain the graphic contents in text in your document or add alternative, descriptive text to each image in your Word files external link icon

Your alternative text should describe the image for a non-sighted learner and focus specifically on what the graphic is showing that is important for student learning.

Alternative text should be:

  • Accurate and equivalent—present the same content or function as the image.
  • Succinct—no more than a few words are necessary; rarely a short sentence or two may be appropriate.
  • NOT be redundant—do not provide information that is in the surrounding text.
  • NOT use descriptive phrases—screen reading software identifies images, so do not use phrases such as "image of..." or "graphic of..." (WebAIM’s Alternative Text Guidelines external link icon ).
Images that do not convey content, are decorative, or contain content that is already conveyed in text are given null alt text (alt=""). Use the Microsoft Office Accessibility Checker external link icon to ensure that images that are not meaningful or do not contribute to student learning have null text ( “” ) in the alternative text slot. Remove decorative images and clip-art oradd double quotation marks with nothing between them ( “” ) in the alternative text box for all images that do not contribute to student learning.
All tables are set up as text and not embedded as images. They are not presented as screen captures. Use the Microsoft Office Accessibility Checker external link icon to review tables to ensure they are not images or screen captures. Re-create any tables added as images using Microsoft’s built in table tools: Table instructions for Word external link icon
Tables are set up with headings for columns and rows and are used only for summarizing data, not for formatting of texts. Tables have captions, alt-text or alt-tags, and are formatted so that headings repeat. Use the Microsoft Office Accessibility Checker external link icon to check that tables contain headings for columns and rows and that alternative text is present that explains to non-sighted students how to read the table correctly.

Add headings for rows and columns using Microsoft’s built-in table tools external link icon

Convert complicated tables to simple tables, ensuring that no cells are merged and there are no separate tables embedded inside rows or columns. Alternative text should explain how many columns there are and how many rows, and if possible, how the table should be interpreted.

Document titles and headings are formatted using styles (Heading 1, Heading 2, etc.) found in the word processing software (such as Word) style gallery; they do not merely utilize a larger or bold or italic font. Use the Microsoft Office Accessibility Checker external link icon to check for any issues with heading styles. The Title style should be used only for the title of the document.

Use Microsoft Word’s built in styles external link icon to format document titles and headings.

Headings should follow hierarchy rules.

Modify Word’s existing styles external link icon if they do not match your required formatting.

Text colors alone are not relied on to convey meaning. The meaning is also conveyed in another way that does not require perceiving different colors. Review the document to ensure that color is not required to understand directions or information.

Rephrase elements or use symbols to mark special elements:

Instead of: All homework marked in purple is due on Tuesdays

Use: All homework marked with asterisks *homework* will be due on Tuesdays.

Underlined text is avoided unless used for navigation. Review the document to ensure that underlining is used only to denote hyperlinks or other document navigation links. Use italics or bold for emphasis rather than underlining.

Microsoft PowerPoint Slide Accessibility

This table provides information to help ensure PowerPoint slides are accessible to all students.

Accessibility Guidelines How to Determine Accessibility How to Fix
Images, charts, and graphs important for student understanding are described via an alt-tag, long description, or audio description. Use the Microsoft Office Accessibility Checker external link icon to ensure that each image necessary for student learning contains alternative text.

Add alternative, descriptive text to each image and shape in your PowerPoint files external link icon

Your alternative text should describe the image for a non-sighted learner and focus specifically on what the graphic is showing that is important for student learning.

Alternative text should be:

  • Accurate and equivalent—present the same content or function as the image.
  • Succinct—no more than a few words are necessary; rarely a short sentence or two may be appropriate.
  • NOT be redundant—do not provide information that is in the surrounding text.
  • NOT use descriptive phrases—screen reading software identifies images, so do not use phrases such as "image of..." or "graphic of..." (WebAIM’s Alternative Text Guidelines external link icon )
Images that do not convey content, are decorative, or contain content that is already conveyed in text are given null alt text (alt=""). Use the Microsoft Office Accessibility Checker external link icon to ensure that images that are not meaningful or do not contribute to student learning have null text ( “” ) in the alternative text slot. Remove decorative images and clip-art or mark images as decorative external link icon
All tables are set up as text and not embedded as images. They are not presented as screen captures. Use the Microsoft Office Accessibility Checker external link icon to review tables to ensure they are not images or screen captures. Re-create any tables added as images using Microsoft’s built in table tools: Table instructions for PowerPoint external link icon
Tables are set up with headings for columns and rows and are used only for summarizing data, not for formatting of texts. Tables have captions, alt-text or alt-tags, and are formatted so that headings repeat. Use the Microsoft Office Accessibility Checker external link icon to check that tables contain headings for columns and rows and that alternative text is present that explains to non-sighted students how to read the table correctly.

Add headings for rows and columns using Microsoft’s built-in table tools external link icon

Convert complicated tables to simple tables, ensuring that no cells are merged and there are no separate tables embedded inside rows or columns. Alternative text should explain how many columns there are and how many rows, and if possible, how the table should be interpreted.

Document titles and headings are formatted using styles (Heading 1, Heading 2, etc.) found in the word processing software (such as Word) style gallery; they do not merely utilize a larger or bold or italic font. Use the Microsoft Office Accessibility Checker external link icon to check for any issues with heading styles. The Title style should be used only for the title of the document.

Use PowerPoint’s built in styles and templates external link icon to format titles, headings, and paragraph text. Some of PowerPoint’s built in templates are not 100% accessible. Use this resource external link icon to identify which templates are best for accessibility.

Check reading order of slide elements to ensure screen readers will read information in the correct order. Use the Microsoft Office Accessibility Checker external link icon to check reading order of all headings, text boxes, and images in PowerPoints.

Use the Selection Pane in PowerPoint external link icon to manually check and reorder elements on the slide so they are read in the correct order for users using screen readers.

Text colors alone are not relied on to convey meaning. The meaning is also conveyed in another way that does not require perceiving different colors. Review the document to ensure that color is not required to understand directions or information.

Rephrase elements or use symbols to mark special elements:

Instead of: All elements marked in purple are related to the heart

Use: All elements marked with asterisks *element* are related to the heart.

Underlined text is avoided unless used for navigation. Review the document to ensure that underlining is used only to denote hyperlinks or other document navigation links. Use italics or bold for emphasis rather than underlining.

PDF Document Accessibility

This table provides information to help ensure PDF documents are accessible to all students.

Accessibility Guidelines How to Determine Accessibility How to Fix
The document is a text file, not merely an image scan; any text contained in the PDF document is selectable and searchable. Run the PDF Accessibility Checker external link icon  to determine if the document is searchable and accessible via a screen reader.

In Adobe Acrobat, select Image-only PDF on the Accessibility Checker panel, and choose Fix from the Options menu.

Or, to fix this rule check manually, use Optical Character Recognition (OCR) to recognize text in scanned images:

  1. Choose Tools > Enhance Scans.
  2. The Enhance Scans toolset is displayed in the secondary toolbar.
  3. In the secondary toolbar, choose Recognize Text > In This File.

Select the pages you want to process, the document language, and then click Recognize Text. (Create and verify PDF accessibility (Acrobat Pro) external link icon

Images, charts, and graphs important for student understanding are described via an alt-tag, long description, or audio description. Run the PDF Accessibility Checker external link icon to ensure that each image necessary for student learning contains alternative text. Add alternative, descriptive text to each image external link icon in your PDF file.
Images that do not convey content, are decorative, or contain content that is already conveyed in text are given null alt text (alt=""). Run the PDF Accessibility Checker external link icon to ensure that images that are not meaningful or do not contribute to student learning have null text ( “” ) in the alternative text slot. Remove decorative images or type “” double quotation marks with nothing between them in the alternative text box.
All tables are set up as text and not embedded as images. They are not presented as screen captures. Use the PDF Accessibility Checker external link icon to review tables to ensure they are not images or screen captures.

Use Adobe Acrobat’s table tool external link icon to create tables.

Tables are set up with headings for columns and rows and are used only for summarizing data, not for formatting of text. Tables have captions, alt-text or alt-tags, and are formatted so that headings repeat. Use the PDF Accessibility Checker external link icon to check that tables contain headings for columns and rows and that alternative text is present that explains to non-sighted students how to read the table correctly.

Use Adobe Acrobat’s table tool external link icon to create tables.

Document titles and headings are formatted using styles (Heading 1, Heading 2, etc.) found in the word processing software (such as Word) style gallery; they do not merely utilize a larger or bold or italic font. Run the PDF Accessibility Checker external link icon to check for any issues with heading styles. The Title style should be used only for the title of the document.

Use Adobe Acrobat’s reading order tool external link icon to ensure that headings are correct and reading order is appropriate throughout the document.

Text colors alone are not relied on to convey meaning. The meaning is also conveyed in another way that does not require perceiving different colors. Review the document to ensure that color is not required to understand directions or information.

Rephrase elements or use symbols to mark special elements:

Instead of: All homework marked in purple is due on Tuesdays

Use: All homework marked with asterisks *homework* will be due on Tuesdays.

Underlined text is avoided unless used for navigation. Review the document to ensure that underlining is used only to denote hyperlinks or other document navigation links. Use italics or bold for emphasis rather than underlining.

Canvas Page Accessibility

This table provides information to help ensure Word documents are accessible to all students.

Accessibility Guidelines How to Determine Accessibility How to Fix
Images, charts, and graphs important for student understanding are described via an alt-tag, long description, or audio description. Use the Rich Content Editor Accessibility Checker  external link icon  to ensure that each image necessary for student learning contains alternative text.

Explain the graphic contents in text in your document or add alternative, descriptive text to each image on your Canvas page external link icon .

**Note that when you upload images through the Files section of the course and add them to your Pages, the default alternative text will be the filename of the image, which is not helpful for non-sighted users. You will need to edit those images to be sure to add alternative text to these images.

Alternative text should be:

  • Accurate and equivalent—present the same content or function as the image.
  • Succinct—no more than a few words are necessary; rarely a short sentence or two may be appropriate.
  • NOT be redundant—do not provide information that is in the surrounding text.
  • NOT use descriptive phrases—screen reading software identifies images, so do not use phrases such as "image of..." or "graphic of..." (WebAIM’s Alternative Text Guidelines external link icon )
Images that do not convey content, are decorative, or contain content that is already conveyed in text are given null alt text (alt=""). Use the Rich Content Editor Accessibility Checker external link icon to ensure that images that are not meaningful or do not contribute to student learning have null text ( “” ) in the alternative text slot. Remove decorative images and clip-art or mark the images as decorative external link icon in the alternative text box for all images that do not contribute to student learning.
All tables are set up as text and not embedded as images. They are not presented as screen captures. Use the Rich Content Editor Accessibility Checker external link icon to check for any issues tables. Tables should be built using Canvas’s table function and alternative text should be present that explains to non-sighted students how to read the table correctly. Use Canvas’s built in table tool external link icon to add tables to your Canvas pages.
Tables are set up with headings for columns and rows and are used only for summarizing data, not for formatting of texts. Tables have captions, alt-text or alt-tags, and are formatted so that headings repeat. Use the Rich Content Editor Accessibility Checker external link icon to check for any issues with tables.

Use Canvas’s built in table tool external link icon to add tables to your Canvas pages. When you use the Accessibility Checker, it will prompt you to add captions to tables.

Pages are formatted using styles (Heading 1, Heading 2, etc.) found in the Rich Content Editor; they do not merely utilize a larger or bold or italic font. Use the Rich Content Editor Accessibility Checker external link icon to check for any issues with heading styles.

In Canvas, the Title style is automatically applied to the Title box at the top of the screen. The Paragraph pull-down button lists different heading styles you can choose. If you are copying preformatted headers from another software (e.g., Microsoft Word), the heading styles would be preserved.

Headings should follow hierarchy rules external link icon

Note: The Rich Content Editor Accessibility Checker will not check for proper hierarchy of headings.

Text colors alone are not relied on to convey meaning. The meaning is also conveyed in another way that does not require perceiving different colors. Review pages to ensure that color is not required to understand directions or information.

Rephrase elements or use symbols to mark special elements:

Instead of: All homework marked in purple is due on Tuesdays

Use: All homework marked with asterisks *homework* will be due on Tuesdays.

Underlined text is avoided unless used for navigation. Review the document to ensure that underlining is used only to denote hyperlinks or other document navigation links. Use italics or bold for emphasis rather than underlining.

External Webpage Accessibility

This table provides information to help ensure external webpages are accessible to all students.

Accessibility Guidelines How to Determine Accessibility How to Fix
Images, charts, and graphs important for student understanding are described via an alt-tag, long description, or audio description. Go to the WAVE Web Accessibility page external link icon and enter the URL of each of the websites you plan to link to in the course. Look for alt tags next to all images:  *Open Rich Content Editor* external link icon Choose web pages that contain alternative text for images.
Pages are formatted using styles (Heading 1, Heading 2, etc.) found in the word processing software (such as Word) style gallery; they do not merely utilize a larger or bold or italic font. Go to the WAVE Web Accessibility page external link icon and enter the URL of each of the websites you plan to link to in the course look for headings labeled with h1, h2, etc. Section Title Choose web pages that contain consistent headings.

Closed Captioning

If you are using video in your course, adding captions makes them more accessible. Captions help second language learners and make your videos easier to understand for everyone.

Academic and Instructional Services provides budget to caption videos in courses when there is a student who requires accommodations. In addition, we are able to proactively caption videos in some courses that meet certain requirements.

Contact captions@usu.edu for information about captioning your course videos to make them more inclusive for everyone. Be sure to include your course information in the email.