Technology Enhanced Learning at Sussex

Digital Accessibility - Create

Create new accessible documents and resources

There are some features common to many digital authoring tools for structuring your content.

Identify headings

Headings

Structure your documents using headings. There are six levels of heading which are used in a hierarchy. The top-level is Heading 1, you might use this for your document heading. Use Heading 2 for subheadings under the main document heading. For further sub-headings under Heading 2, use Heading 3, and so on.

Use bulleted and numbered lists

Lists

Use lists where appropriate. Where you are referring to a number of connected items, one after the other, use a list.

If the order of content is important, such as when giving step-by-step instructions, use a numbered (ordered) list. When the order does not matter use a bulleted (unordered) list.

Use simple tables for tabular data

Tables

Use tables for displaying tabular data, not for layout. Keep table structures simple.

Column and row headers should be used where appropriate to distinguish the titles for each column/row from the content.

Web platforms such as Canvas provide opportunities to use a rich variety of media, which can greatly enhance the content in your module. It is therefore important for you to consider users who may not be able to access the media in its native form.

Provide a text alternative for images

Alt text for images

Provide alternative text (alt text) for images. Alt text allows you to provide a text description for students with visual impairments using screen readers and others unable to view images directly. A text description should ideally be limited to 125 characters in length, though they can be longer. When writing a text description, it can be helpful to imagine how you would describe the image to a student over the phone.

Images are good for visual flow and may not always need a description and can be set as decorative, but we’d encourage you to think twice about including too many non-essential images.

Provide captions or subtitles for video

Subtitles for video and transcripts for audio

Videos should always have subtitles where possible. There are some services that will provide automatic captioning as well as tools to add your own or edit existing. 

If you are linking to or using Podcasts or video content, is a transcript available for users of screen readers? Most podcasts do not provide transcriptions, so do bear this in mind.

To get transcripts of conversations there are tools such as Otter.AI and Just Press Record that will auto-transcribe, with varying results, you will need to sense check and edit accordingly. For more professional and more accurate transcription, there are many paid services online.

Use colour in conjunction with shapes to convey meaning

Use colour in combination with graphics and text to convey meaning

Ensure colour is not the only means of conveying information. Use text, graphics and/or textures in conjunction with colour to ensure your materials are accessible to the widest audience.

Ensure that text colour has sufficient contrast with the background

Good Contrast 

Use a good contrast between background and foreground colours, particularly for text in relation to a background colour. Some lower contrast ratios can still be used provided text is a sufficient size. Some software has built-in tools to help you choose accessible colour combinations. Here is a list of accessible colour combinations within the University of Sussex palette. Alternatively, you could use a colour contrast checker.

Hyperlink

When you link to a website or another document, use text which describes the target of the link for the link text. Screen readers read out the text in a link to tell the user where the link goes.

Example: For a contact link, use a meaningful term like "Contact us". Avoid linking words like "Click here" or "read more".

Ensure headings are meaningful. Screen reader software used by visually impaired students reads out the text in a heading and enables users to skip to the next heading if it is not what they are looking for.

Creative Commons Licence This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Icons by Font Awesome are licensed under CC-BY 4.0.
Accessibility Icons based on Accessibility Posters by the Home Office are licensed under CC-BY-NC-SA 4.0.

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