Using the principles of Universal Design and best practices allows for the creation of content that is simple and intuitive for all users, flexible to accommodate assistive technology and provides accessible information.
The following best practices can be applied to many different kinds of content and helps to create simple, structured documents that are easy to follow for all users.
Alternative text and captions allow users with screen readers to “read” the content of images, graphics, and tables.
Headings allow for navigation of documents, the creation of a Table of Contents, and allow users to jump to individual headings (sections). They also provide a structure to the document that improves the usability for all users while creating a more visual style to the document.
Heading order is vital and should be sequential and relational meaning that it operates in a hierarchical manner. Headings allow content to be relatable within sections and sub-sections making it discernible to those using screen readers. Avoid using ‘fake’ headings by making text bold or resizing it, instead use the pre-formatted headings in the platform you are using to create the content.
Example of Heading Structure:
To provide structure and readability by screen readers, use bulleted or numbered lists from the editing toolbar. This way these lists will be automatically ordered rather than through a manual means. Screen readers will recognize the list and present it that way to the user. This also creates a document that is more clearly structured for all users.
To provide structure and readability by screen readers, use columns from the editing toolbar and not using tabs or spaces. Be sure to allow for adequate spacing between columns to allow for easier viewing for those with vision problems.
When creating links, hyperlink action-oriented text to provide a meaningful description of where the link is directing the user. Link text should only be used once on a page and not repeated (i.e., do not use “Learn more” multiple times).
Include an accessible name when using an image link.
Tables should be used to convey tabular data and should never be used simply for page layout. The following are good practices when creating tables so they are easy to read by all users, including those with screen readers:
Grackle is a Google Workspace add-on available for use in Google Docs, Google Slides, and Google Sheets to ensure that your documents meet accessibility standards. Grackle offers ‘remediation at the point of creation’. Grackle can also be used to create tagged PDFs from Google Docs or Google Slides. The add-on is enabled on all Lafayette Google accounts and can be found in the “Add-ons” drop-down in Docs, Slides, and Sheets. For instructions on how to use Grackle, see Making Google Files Accessible with Grackle.
Microsoft Word now has many built-in features to help you create accessible documents. For a full list of features and best practices, see Creating Accessible Word Documents.
For a full list of features and best practices, see Creating Accessible PowerPoint Presentations.
For a full list of features and best practices, see Creating Accessible Excel Documents.
While PDFs are popular because they provide a fixed layout and are slightly more difficult to modify than Word Documents, they generally provide a poor experience for those with accessibility needs. Inaccessible PDFs are nearly unusable for those using screen readers or relying on keyboard navigation. If your content must be in a PDF format, see the Creating Accessible PDFs webpage.
Many of the best accessible practices in Moodle help to make your course more usable for all users.