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Digital Accessibility

Guides & Tutorials

The WCAG Level AA guidelines for digital accessibility can be difficult to understand if you're not an accessibility expert. We've translated them into easy, actionable guides that focus on the content you work with every day. Where possible, we also explain the fastest or most preferred way to make certain content accessible.

Making Your Digital Content Accessible

Creating digital content that complies with WCAG Level AA guidelines, the accepted standard, becomes easy when you make it part of your everyday work. 

If you develop digital properties in code: You should refer to the WCAG Level AA guidelines for development requirements. These guides do not cover the significant accessibility work that must be done in markup.

 

Topic Guides

Most content creation and management at the university will include tasks in these common areas of digital accessibility.

Screen readers rely on alternative (alt) text to describe an image. You must consider alt text for every image you share in a digital context.

Do this: Describe the content of the image. Include any information or locations that are specific to the university. Be descriptive but succinct. 

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.

Alternative Text Guide »

 It's an accessibility best practice to provide audio descriptions for all videos to provide information your video communicates visually to those with vision-related disabilities or who cannot look at the video for any reason.

Do this: Consider audio descriptions from the very beginning planning phases of creating your video. This will make it easier to fit your audio descriptions in with the rest of your video's audio. 

Not that: Don't forget visual cues beyond just describing the scene, such as any text that appears on the screen, actors coming onto the screen and leaving the screen and facial expressions.

Audio Descriptions Guide »

All videos should be captioned to assist visitors who have hearing-related disabilities. Captions also let sighted viewers listen and read simultaneously, which often aids in information recall. It's also best practice to provide a transcript for all audio and video content.

Do this: Add captions to all videos that you plan to ask others to engage with. Send out a transcript after sharing video and audio.

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 & Transcripts Guide »

Improper use of color can make it very difficult for people with vision-related disabilities to consume your content. 

Do this: Check your contrast ratio with the WebAIM Contrast Checker to ensure strong contrast between your text and background color.

Not that:  Don't rely on color alone to convey information.

Color Usage Guide »

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 as a web page.

Do this: Create web pages for your document content instead whenever possible.

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

Documents & PDFs Guide »

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 page, not within the form itself.

Not that: Creating forms using other platforms like Google or Wufoo risks the accessibility rating for university pages. If a third-party vendor needs to be checked for accessibility, please email the Director of Digital Accessibility at accessibility@sc.edu

Forms Guide »  

Screen readers help a user navigate a product by reading the headings. If the screen has no headings, the screen reader reads every line. Ideally, anyone visiting your site should be able to grasp what the content 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 screen. 

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

Heading Hierarchy Guide »

Link text should make it easy for a user or screen reader to understand where a link will take them. Screen readers give their users access to a list of all the links and buttons on a screen. If those links and buttons are well-named, this makes navigating content 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. 

Link Text Guide »

Presentations have their own guidelines for creating accessible content. Just like other digital content, all of your presentations must adhere to accessibility standards.

Do this: Follow the specific accessibility instructions for each common presentation platform.
Powerpoint Guide

Keynote Guide

Google Slides Guide

Not that: Not all presentation platforms have the necessary options to meet accessibility standards. All content must still be made accessible.

Screen readers need header rows to make sense of your columns and to navigate the data table. If a table doesn't have a header row, the screen reader may not be able to understand how cells relate to each other.

Do this: Build tables using the snippets provided in OU Campus, which provides a header row by default.

Not that: Don't delete the default header row, and make sure to update the column headings with appropriate text. 

Spreadsheets & Tables Guide »

 

Platform and Program Guides

If you work in a specific platform or program, these guides focus only on the accessibility topics you will typically need information about in order to do your work.

Because of the accessible template used for OU Campus websites, there are some things you need to know about successfully creating accessible content in the university's content management system.

Do this: Keep in mind how certain snippets work, especially when it comes to headings and alternative text.

Not that: Don't overwhelm with large paragraphs of text. Instead, use subheadings to break up content and help everyone who's engaging with your content.

OU Campus-Specific Guides
Alt Text »
Captioning & Transcripts »
Documents & PDFs »
Forms »
Heading Hierarchy »
Link Text »
Spreadsheets & Tables »

Even content shared via social media posts needs to comply with digital acessibility guidelines.

Do this: Write alt text for every social media post.

Not that: Avoid posting information as Instagram or Facebook stories, which do not allow for alt text.

Social Media Guides
Alt Text »
Audio Descriptions »
Captioning & Transcripts »
Color Contrast »
Link Text »

Pro Tip: When using a phrase with multiple words as a hashtag, capitalize each word to help screen readers understand and read the hashtag out correctly. For example, #InclusiveAndAccessible instead of #inclusiveandaccessible.

You may not have thought about all of the content you share via email, but particularly any images, documents or other media need to be accessible. 

Do this: Follow accessibility guidelines for all components of your email, including any attatchments. 

Not that: You cannot assume that the person you are emailing doesn't have a disability or another reason they need to access the content in an accessible way.

Email Guides
Alt Text »
Audio Descriptions »
Captioning & Transcripts »
Color Contrast »
Documents & PDFs »
Heading Hierarchy »
Link Text »
Spreadsheets & Tables »

Blackboard features a built-in tool called Ally for checking and improving the accessibility of your digital content.

Do this: Follow Blackboard Ally's guides  to check and improve the accessibility of your content.

Not that: Blackboard Ally does not automatically make your content accessible.

Blackboard Ally Guide

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 as a web page.

Do this: Create web pages for your document content instead whenever possible.

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

Documents & PDFs Guide »

Presentations need to follow digital accessibility guidelines, too. If you are presenting, it's a best practice to send your presentation slides out beforehand so those who may need to familiarize themselves with your accessible content can do so before you present.

Do this: Treat presentations like any other digital content to be made accessible.

Not that: Presentation platforms can be a little tricky when it comes to accessibility. Avoid presenting information as a slideshow unless it's truly a presentation.

Presentation Guides
Powerpoint Guide

Keynote Guide

Google Slides Guide

 Your video and audio content has its own set of digital accessibility requirements.

Do this: Either create this content to be entirely accessible in a single version version or make a second accessible version readily available on the same screen.

Not that: Don't make it difficult to find the accessible version of your video or audio content. Offering it upon request is not enough for digital accessibility compliance.

Video and Audio Guides
Alt Text (for thumbnails) »
Audio Descriptions »
Captioning & Transcripts »

Pro Tip: Providing audio descriptions, while not officially required currently under the accepted guidelines, is a best practice for digital accessibility.

 All new sites, apps and technology, whether purchased or for free, made in-house or by a third-party vendor, must comply with IT 5.00 and go through an accessibility review by the Director of Digital Accessibility.

Do this: Submit a request for review to the Director of Digital Accessibility and ensure all flagged issues are fixed before implementation or launch.

Not that: Avoid letting the DIrector of Digital Accessibility know about the new digital property on short notice. Instead, reach out as soon as you've made the decision to move forward with the new site, app or technology.

Schedule a Review: Email accessibility@sc.edu.

Procedures
Building New Sites, Apps or Digital Properties »
Third-Party Digital Tools & Platforms »

 

Role-Specific Guides

Which accessibility topics you commonly need to reference will depend on who you are and what kind of content you create or manage for the university.

Course materials are required to comply with digital accessibility guidelines, even if you don't have anyone in your class who has registered with the Student Disability Resource Center.

Course Material Guides
Alt Text »
Audio Descriptions »
Captioning & Transcripts »
Color Contrast »
Documents & PDFs »
Heading Hierarchy »
Link Text »
Spreadsheets & Tables »

Presentation Guides
Powerpoint Guide

Keynote Guide

Google Slides Guide

Even if you don't "work in web," your content may be shared in a digital context and therefore needs to be created with accessibility in mind. 

Digital Content Guides
Alt Text »
Audio Descriptions »
Captioning & Transcripts »
Color Contrast »
Documents & PDFs »
Heading Hierarchy »
Link Text »
Spreadsheets & Tables »

Presentation-Specific Guides
Powerpoint Guide

Keynote Guide

Google Slides Guide

If you oversee digital content at the university,  you're responsible for ensuring its accessibility compliance.

Digital Content Guides
Alt Text »
Captioning & Transcripts »
Color Contrast »
Documents & PDFs »
Forms »
Heading Hierarchy »
Link Text »
Spreadsheets & Tables »

Accessibility Review for New Sites, Apps & Technology
Email accessibility@sc.edu.

Procedures for New Sites, Apps & Technology
Building New Sites, Apps or Digital Properties »
Third-Party Digital Tools & Platforms »

The Procurement team and anyone going through the procurement process for a new or renewed digital contract is responsible for ensuring their digital property passes accessibility checks and is reviewed by the Director of Digital Accessibility. 

Accessibility Review for New Sites, Apps & Technology
Email accessibility@sc.edu.

Procedures for New Sites, Apps & Technology
Building New Sites, Apps or Digital Properties »
Third-Party Digital Tools & Platforms »

Much of accessibility compliance happens in code. You should make yourself familiar with all of the topic guides on this page and examine the WCAG Level AA guidelines carefully to ensure your digital product or service is in compliance. 

Reviews of new digital properties are required and will return any issues that need to be fixed. 

Digital Content Guides
Alt Text »
Audio Descriptions »
Captioning & Transcripts »
Color Contrast »
Documents & PDFs »
Forms »
Heading Hiearchy »
Link Text »
Spreadsheets & Tables »

Presentation-Specific Guides
Powerpoint Guide

Keynote Guide

Google Slides Guide


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