Amanda Coolidge and Josie Gray from BCcampus gave an engaging workshop about creating accessible educational resources, and applying inclusive design. They were knowledgeable, informative, and thought-provoking.
If you missed this session, here are a few pointers you can use to make your materials more accessible:
- Use Heading Styles in Word so a screen reader can navigate the page according to the headers.
- Embed any link in the words that describe where the link will take the reader. Why you may ask? Because you can ask a screen reader to read all the links on a page, and it is not helpful to the reader if it reads multiple links that all say Click Here or read the URL letter by letter, e.g., http://www.opentextbc.ca/accessibilitytookkit/
- When using colour, ensure there is sufficient contrast between the foreground content and background colour. There should be a minimum colour-contrast ratio of 7:1. If you are not sure about the contrast then you can check it at Contrast Checker. (Notice the Contrast Checker link is an example of a context specific hyperlink).
- Also, colour should never be the only way of identifying information. If someone cannot distinguish between the colours, a screen reader will not be able to help, so they need an alternative format. Use text as well as color to be clear. Your sighted users will be grateful as well.
- When using images, ensure they are functional and are identified using alt tags, long descriptions and/or include the description in the surrounding text. The alt tag only needs to be descriptive enough for the context, no need to redraw it for the user. Keep it short, i.e., under 100 characters. When a screen reader reads an alt tag it starts with “an image of” so no need to include it in your alt tag text.
- Graphs and tables also need alt tags. A data table from which the graph came can be an alternative format of displaying the data.
- When using tables, remember to mark column and row titles as headings. Tables need captions as well.
- Video, audio, and presentations need transcripts, captions, and descriptions of any information that is only portrayed visually.
- Consider providing materials in more than one format (e.g., web for online reading, and PDF for off-line reading).
If you want to determine how accessible a webpage is, try WAVE: Web Accessibility Evaluation Tool.
Sometimes it is easier to think about how to make a course inaccessible than how to make it more accessible. We considered not only accessibility but also inclusive design.
What is Inclusive Design? Inclusive Design considers the full range of human diversity with respect to ability, language, culture, age, and other forms of human difference.
For more information, see the BCcampus Open Education Accessibility Toolkit.
Image Credits: Carol Sparkes.