Accessibility for teaching

Faculty Toolbox

Digital and web-based tools are great resources with lots of possibilities for classroom application. To make sure everyone has the best experience with technology-based resources, we've compiled some tools and tips for presenting and sharing digital content in accessible formats.

Digital Documents

Digital versions of course documents, articles, and resources can be a great way to give students access to information, but it’s important to make sure these documents are equally accessible by all students.

Rules of thumb:

  • Use headings and structure to organize documents and make navigation easier
  • Provide descriptions and alternative text for images and links in documents
  • Make sure PDFs are formatted properly and not scans saved as images
  • Use quick checkers and tools, such as the ones listed under "Resources", to easily check and optimize digital documents

Resources

ACT Center’s Document Accessibility Page: Links to information and tools to check and improve digital document accessibility

Abbyy FineScanner: an iOS app that converts pictures of documents into accessible digital text

Videos

Videos are helpful tools and resources that can add dimension to classes, but videos should include proper captions and transcripts in order to make the content presented equally accessible to all students.

Rules of thumb:

  • Choose video players that support closed-captioning
  • Look for video resources that already have captions
  • If creating original video content, adapt scripts into captions before uploading videos
  • Check video captions for accuracy before sharing videos with classes
  • When possible, provide access to transcripts when sharing videos

Resources:

ACT Center’s Captions and Transcripts page: Information and links for more resources on captions and transcripts

YouTube subtitling and closed captioning guide: The official guide to adding closed captions and subtitles on YouTube videos

Digital Images

Pictures and images help bring course content to life, however it’s important to include proper text and formatting to make sure that all students can receive the information in images.

Rules of thumb:

  • For any digital image, including those in digital documents, include a text description of each image used
  • When using an image, include a caption nearby that describes the presented image
  • Make sure that text descriptions and captions make sense of what the image is, even for someone who cannot see the image

Resources:

WebAIM’s guide to alternative text: A thorough resource that gives information and tips for creating and using alternative text for images

Disability Blog’s “Making Images Accessible to People Who Are Blind”: An explanation of why image descriptions are important and how to implement high-quality alternative image text

Color and Font

Color and Font can add emphasis and excitement to text, but it’s important to choose combinations that present the text in an easily readable format.

Rules of thumb:

  • Use patterns and textures in addition to color
  • Use font stylization to emphasize text instead of or in addition to changing the color
  • Chose standard color combinations that are easily readable on screen and in print
  • Choose standard fonts that are easily readable on screen and in print
  • Make sure all font is formatted in 10 point or larger (12 point is ideal)

Resources:

Paciello Group’s Colour Contrast Analyser: A free, downloadable tool to check color contrast to ensure readability

WebAIM on Fonts: A thorough resource that gives information on how (and why) to choose the most readable formats for text

Web Pages

Online resources and websites open up a world of possibilities for enhancing course content, but it’s important that web pages are equally accessible to all students.

Rules of thumb:

  • Choose web resources with simple, intuitive layouts
  • Be prepared to offer students alternative methods of accessing web page content
  • Provide students with information about site/browser compatibility when sharing web resources
  •  When designing class websites, follow Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0

Resources:

WebAIM WCAG 2.0 Checklist: A quick resource for understanding what makes a successful accessible website

WebAIM WAVE Toolbar: A free, downloadable browser extension for quickly and easily checking for accessibility concerns on websites

Additional Resources

WebAIM: An online resource that covers a wide range of aspects of digital accessibility with everything from quick tips to in-depth articles

Accessibility at Penn State: An online resource that covers information and advice for digital accessibility both in and out of the classroom

ACT Center’s Web Accessibility Page: Information and resources from the ACT Center team for digital accessibility