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Digital Accessibility

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Digital Accessibility Toolbox

The WCAG 2.1 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

Before diving into the details around how to make your content accessible on different platforms, it's important to gain an understanding of several key accessibility topics.

Topic Introductions

The following topics are a great place to start learning more about general digital accessibility best practices.

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

Alternative Text Guide »

 It's an accessibility best practice to provide audio descriptions for all videos. Audio descriptions help those with visual disabilities by auditorily describing information, such as a change of scene or important facial cues.

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 a best practice to provide a transcript for all audio and video content.

Captioning & Transcripts Guide »

Improper use of color can make it very difficult for people with visual disabilities to consume your content. Make sure you use sufficient color contrast between your text and its background, and don't rely on color by itself to convey information.

Color Usage Guide »

Screen readers help a user navigate digital content by a list of headings. Headings need to be marked up appropriately, and in the proper order, to be helpful for all users . Ideally, anyone visiting your site should be able to grasp what the content is about just by reading the headings.

Heading Hierarchy Guide »

Link text should make it easy for a user to understand where a link will take them. Screen readers give their users access to a list of all the links on a screen. If those links are well-named, it is much easier to navigate content for screen reader users.

Link Text Guide »

Platform and Program Guides

If you work in a specific platform or program, you can read these guides to focus on the accessibility topics relevant to your daily work.

Because of the template used for Omni CMS 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.

Omni CMS Guides »

Even content shared via social media posts needs to comply with digital accessibility 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 attachments. 

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: Contact the Director of Digital Accessibility »

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


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