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Accessibility Basics for Documents and Digital Content

Creating and posting accessible documents and maintaining accessible websites are the law of the land of the United States and are official Idaho State University policy. These practices embrace all of the University’s core values: Integrity, Community, Inclusivity, Teamwork, Shared Responsibility, and Learning. It is essential that our documents and digital content are accessible to provide the widest access possible.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention about 20 percent of U.S. adults have some type of disability. Designing content to meet the needs of people with disabilities can be beneficial to all users. An example of an accessibility practice that benefitted many are cut-curbs in sidewalks. Besides benefitting people in wheelchairs, these dips at the edge of sidewalks also benefit “people pushing strollers, skateboarders, people wheeling bags, and many others.” The same principle can be applied to creating documents and digital content.  Whether creating content for the web or editing documents using Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, Adobe, or other tools, these general guidelines can ensure they are more accessible to all users, including those with various disabilities. 

General Guidelines

Use Your Accessibility Checker

Awareness of accessibility issues is the first step in correcting them.

  • For the ISU website, use the DubBot tool Web Services has purchased to check the website accessibility.
  • When creating documents using Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Adobe Pro, InDesign, and some other popular document-creating software use the built-in “check accessibility” functions (see below in the Document Specific Accessibility Tools links). These built-in accessibility checkers identify issues or necessary changes.
  • For an extensive check of PDF (portable document format) documents, the Windows-based PDF Accessibility Checker (PAC) 2021 or similar products can provide a comprehensive check of PDF documents accessibility.
  • Users can also evaluate document or digital accessibility by using a screen reader such as JAWS, NVDA, or, on a Mac, VoiceOver.  

 

Headings:

Documents should have headings that provide structure and help screen reader users navigate the document. 

 

Lists:

Any content in list form should be structured using the list controls, such as a bulleted or numbered list.

 

Meaningful Link Text:

The text of a link should make sense out of context and clearly convey information about the link destination.

 

Alt Text on Images:

For users who cannot see the images, adding alternative text (alt text) to an image communicates what the image is. Alt text should be a brief description of the content of the
image.

 

Tables:

If including tables, identify column and row headers. This helps screen readers convey information in the correct order.

 

Document Specific Accessibility Tools

Check out these specific instructions for some of the most common tools:

Most tools have a built-in accessibility checker that can alert you to any issues or necessary changes. You can also go through the document yourself using a screen reader like JAWS to evaluate accessibility.

 

Resources