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Communications and Public Affairs

Digital Accessibility

The university is committed to ensuring digital accessibility and improving the online user experience for all of our visitors and community members. Follow the instructions for each dimension of your digital content to ensure compliance with digital accessibility guidelines.

Why is digital accessibility so important?

To provide an excellent user experience on our websites, apps, digital tools and social media accounts as well as in our emails and while developing classroom materials, we must consider the accessibility of our digital content.

Easier Use for All

While it is true that those with disabilities often use assistive technology like screen readers or keyboards to navigate online, optimizing our digital experiences to comply with accessibility guidelines ensures that our content serves all students, community members and other visitors excellently.

 

Creating Accessible Digital Content

Videos

All videos should be close-captioned to assist visitors who are deaf or hard-of-hearing. Captions also let sighted viewers listen and read simultaneously, which often aids in information recall.

Do this: Add captions to all videos that you plan to ask others to engage with.

Not that: Never rely on auto-captioning provided by third-party video hosts such as YouTube, which relies on speech recognition technology and is often inaccurate. Although you may use these auto-generated captions as a starting point, you will still need to edit them to ensure they are correct. 

Captioning Videos

Link Text

Link text should make it easy for a user or screen reader to understand where a link will take them. Screen readers often combine all links on a page into a list to make navigation faster. 

Do this: Replace any vague link text with text that’s clear about the link destination.

Not that: Links reading “Click Here” or “Learn More” are vague because they don’t explain the destination. 

Images

Screen readers read the field labeled alternative (alt) text to describe an image. The field is required for any image placed on your site. Alt text isn’t just functional, it should be written in a way that enhances your site.

Do this: Describe the content of the image. Include any information or locations that are specific to the university. Be descriptive but succinct. Always include captions for image galleries as these double as alt text. Use our alternative text guidelines to help with writing alt text.

Not that: Writing "image of" or "photo of" before an image description is redundant. A screen reader says the content type before reading the description.

Writing Alternative Text

PDFs

Many PDFs and Word files aren’t accessible, which makes it difficult or impossible for screen readers to read the content to users. It is better to present the content on a web page.

Do this: Create web pages for your document content. When you must use a PDF or Word file, use our PDF accessibility guidelines to help make your documet user friendly for everyone.

Not that: Posting content in PDFs or Word documents is not a good practice as most users prefer browsing on a page. 

PDF Guidelines

Heading Hierarchy

Screen readers help a user navigate a page by reading the headings. If the page has no headings, the screen reader reads every line on the page. Ideally, a site viewer should be able to grasp what the page is about just by reading the headings.

Do this: Give your text headings in sequential order (h1-h6). Write headings in a way that summarizes your content for skimming the page. 

Not that: Headings that are out of order or missing will confuse screen readers and their users.

Forms

Screen readers have a mode that’s just for reading forms. Only accessible forms created with Formstack and OU Campus are approved by Communications and Public Affairs.

Do this: Build forms only in OU Campus or Formstack. Move all third-party forms onto these platforms. Put all descriptive text before or after the form on the web page, not within the form itself.

Not that: Creating forms using other platforms like Google or Wufoo risks the accessibility rating for university web pages. If a third-party vendor needs to be checked for accessibility, please contact Owned Media.


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