Accessibility for Content Creators

Some of the most common accessibility errors are easily detectable and tend to appear multiple times per page. Simply addressing these few issues will have a significant positive impact on web accessibility. Tackle the most serious barriers and critical content first, and avoid common accessibility errors. References to success criteria in the tips below link to the relevant WCAG 2.1 guidelines. A variety of free training videos are also available to help you learn more about digital accessibility.

Top Tips for Content Owners and Designers

Alternative Text on Images

Add alternative text to images. Alternative text is presented to screen reader users in place of images they may not be able to see. Every image that conveys content or has a function on your website should be given meaningful alternative text. Learn more about Success Criterion 1.1.1: Non-Text Content.

For more information about creating appropriate alt text, including text for complicated diagrams and images, visit the DIAGRAM Center website.

Heading Order

Use properly formatted heading structure to organize your page. Be sure to make your main page title, typically the big, bold text at the start of your page, an <h1> to facilitate page navigation and comprehension. Avoid skipping heading levels. Learn more about Success Criterion 1.3.1: Info and Relationships.

Best practices for readability

  • All-caps: Use only for acronyms or when styled as all-caps by CSS. Screen readers may read all-caps one letter at a time.
  • Underline: Don’t underline anything that’s not a link.
  • Italics: Use sparingly.
  • Avoid ableist language: “See the table” might be better phrased as “Refer to the table” or “Consult the table.” “See the website” might be better phrased as “Visit the website.”

Captions and Transcripts

For multimedia content, provide appropriate captions, transcripts, and audio description. Learn more about Success Criterion 1.2.2: Captions and 1.2.3: Audio Description or Media Alternative.


Avoid using color alone to convey meaning. For example, do not use red alone to indicate required fields or errors; use a symbol such as an asterisk (*) or the word “Required.” Learn more about Success Criterion 1.4.1: Use of Color.

Color Contrast

Use sufficient color contrast. For hyperlinks, keep in mind that the color must have sufficient color contrast not only with the background, but with the surrounding text. If a hyperlink does not have sufficient 3:1 color contrast with surrounding text, it should be accompanied by a visual indicator, such as an underline or bottom border. Check your colors with the WebAIM Link Contrast Checker. Learn more about Success Criteria 1.4.3: Contrast.

Meaningful Link Text

Use meaningful link text. Eradicate ambiguous link text such as “click here” and “learn more.” Link text should be specific, clear, and ideally should match the title of the page to which you’re linking. In other words, a user should be able to understand the phrase out of context. When linking to a document, include the document type (PDF, Word, PowerPoint, etc.) in the link text so the user knows what to expect. Example: Acrobat XI Pro Accessibility Guide (PDF). Learn more about Success Criterion 2.4.4: Link Purpose (In Context).

Data Tables

Use simple tables with a semantically marked header row or column. Avoid split, merged, or blank cells, and nested tables. Learn more about Success Criterion 1.3.1: Info and Relationships.


Use semantic markup to denote ordered (numbered) and unordered (usually bulleted) lists. Learn more about Success Criterion 1.3.1: Info and Relationships.

Audio, Video, and Slideshows

The University receives discounted rates from 3Play Media for captioning and transcription service. For further information, please review the UChicago 3Play Media discounted rates table.

Courses and Course Materials

Consult the resources below for information regarding accessibility of courses and course materials. If you utilize a publisher integration, please contact the publisher for details about their accessibility.

If your course is in Canvas, use the Canvas Accessibility Checker Accessibility Checker icon while editing to help identify potential issues. Follow accessibility guidelines pertaining to content and documents.

UChicago resources

Platform-offered resources


Before creating a document to share, consider whether the content should be offered on a webpage instead. Web content may be preferable for a number of reasons, including accessibility. For more information, visit Content Decision: Webpage or Document.

Consult the following resources to learn more about creating an accessible source document. If the document will be saved and offered as a PDF, steps must also be taken in Adobe Acrobat Pro to ensure accessibility.

To create accessible PDFs:

Social Media Posts

Create accessible social media posts using guidance from these resources:

UChicago Resources

If the social media platform doesn’t provide functionality to add closed captions for video, explore one of the following options before you post:

  • Add open captions (burn-in captions). Open captions are always on and are formatted and placed by the video editor. If open captions are used, they should not obscure or obstruct relevant information in the video.
  • Repurpose the caption space to provide a video transcript, including quotes, dialogue, and descriptions of the action.

Platform-offered Resources