When developing accessible content, authors need to think about how people will access and engage with content both visually or auditorily. By considering the following ways to create accessible content, you can enhance the way content is searched, used, and accessed by any person.
When creating content, it's important that you avoid using images of text. Images of text cannot be (easily) modified or read by assistive technologies like text to speech or screen readers. If you have text housed within an image (like a screenshot or a banner with text that's converted to a .jpg or .png file), then the text is essentially unreadable by assistive technology.
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.
Headings are nested under other headings; you should never jump from Heading 1 to Heading 4 without using Headings 2 and 3. For instance, anything formatted as Heading 3 should be a sub-section to what has been labeled as Heading 2.
Headings should be concise and straightforward. They should communicate exactly what information someone will find if they engage with the content beneath that heading. Content should be organized with headings that are written clearly, such that someone could read only your headings and understand the gist of the entire page.
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. Giving your link a title makes your document look more professional and organized. It also allows users of assistive technology to search a page for certain links more effectively.
Images need some alternative text (a.k.a. Alt text, alt attributes, alt descriptions, or technically incorrectly as "alt tags,”) descriptions for individuals who have visual impairments, including color-blindness and use screen reader technology to access content.
This is not an exhaustive list, but these are common types of images you will need to describe with alt text to describe.
When making a list, use the built-in list tool instead of typing 1 enter, 2 enter, 3 enter, etc. Doing this will format your list with the bullets of your choice, indents, and spacing. When formatted using the list tool, the list is tagged correctly and assistive technology will notify a user that there is a list with “x” number of items and let the user know what list item they are on.
Unlike headings where users can navigate through a document by having the headings read out to them, you can’t navigate a list using assistive technology. So, if you organize documents in outline form, consider converting your top level items to headings instead. This way your reader can quickly jump to the section they need.
Tables should only be used to organize data. Tables should never be used for layout or design.
Improper use of color can make it very difficult for people with vision-related disabilities to consume your content. Do not use color alone to convey meaning. If someone is colorblind, or blind, the emphasis or distinction you're trying to create by using color will be lost. Use sufficient contrast between foreground and background content.
All videos should have captions and/or transcripts to ensure everyone has the opportunity to engage with your content and that you're complying with legally required digital accessibility guidelines.
Open captions are embedded in the video itself. Closed captions are uploaded to a video hosting service and displayed by the video player when the viewer turns on closed captioning. Open captions can be advantageous for platforms like Instagram and TikTok. However, they are harder for the editor to add and cannot be translated, nor turned off. They also cannot be used with screen readers for the blind.
Closed captions are supported by most platforms, including Canvas, YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Vimeo. CC can be customized, translated, and turned on and off by the viewer. CC is not available for some platforms, like Instagram and TikTok. CC can be used with some screen readers for the blind.
Many people will use the TAB key, SPACE bar, and blank lines or text boxes to move text around to create layout and white space to display content in the way they would like. However, using these tools to format a document or page may cause accessibility problems.
Depending on where you are building your content, there are simple ways to add space that does not involve creating blank lines of text.
If there are a series of spaces in a document, someone may assume you reached the end of a document (and it becomes a formatting nightmare if you add more text or change the font size).
Many people will use blank lines to create spaces between text. As we've already mentioned, it is better to avoid creating blank spaces when you can.
Try to use a simple font in a good size - no smaller than 11 pt for printed materials, or 20 pt font for projected presentations. However, use your best judgment about font size as font size is relative and depends in part on the particular font you are using. For electronic communication such as email or web, use font size 14.
There is some debate on whether or not sans-serif (fonts without the "feet" or extensions) are easier to read or not. Many claim sans-serif fonts like Arial and Calibri are better for online reading, while serif fonts like Times New Roman are better for print reading. In general, a lot of accessibility guidance will recommend san serif fonts.
Avoid using too many combinations of fonts and typing long phrases or sentences in ALL CAPS.
For audio-only file like a podcast or another audio recording, provide a transcript of the audio via an accessible document or webpage. The link to your transcript should be readily available from the screen where you are sharing the audio file.
When your emails are accessible, you unlock your content to everyone and people with differing abilities can read and work with your messages. Typically most accessibility guidelines that are present here, are applicable to emails.
When a PDF is accessible, it means that the content has tags associated with it for screen readers and other assistive technologies to read and navigate a document, with Tables of Contents, hyperlinks, bookmarks, alt text, and so on.
Accessibility tags also make it possible to read the information on different devices, such as large-type displays, personal digital assistants (PDAs), and mobile phones. In Windows, Office for Mac, and Office for web, you can add tags automatically when you save a file as aPDF. One can also use tags to navigate long/large PDFs using bookmarks or Table of Contents.
There are three ways to create a PDF:
Additional Resources for Accessible PDFs
Zoom has a strong commitment to accessibility. Depending on the subscription license some of the accessibility features include:
The informational guides on this page are not intended to provide comprehensive training for making content digitally accessible, but as a good starting point or a "cheat sheet" for visitors to find quick answers. The authors of this page, recommend that visitors to this page consider avaiable trainings and workshops and refer to the full WCAG 2.0 and WCAG 2.1 for accurate and comprehensive guidelines.
Please use the online Accessibility and Disability Complaint form to report accessibility concerns related to disability accommodations, digital resources, physical area issues on campus, and other accessibility-related concerns.
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