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
- Audio, video, and slideshows
- Courses and course materials
- Social media posts
Top Tips for Content Owners and Designers
- Writing for Web Accessibility by W3C
- Designing for Web Accessibility by W3C
- Web Accessibility for Designers by WebAIM
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.
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
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.
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).
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
- Audio, Video and Slideshow Guidelines by CDA
- Captions, Transcripts, and Audio Description by CDA
- Captioning, Transcripts, and Audio Descriptions by WebAIM
- Captions and Transcripts and Audio Descriptions, Oh My! by The Paciello Group
- YouTube Captioning—one-page cheatsheet by National Center on Disability and Access to Education (NCDAE)
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 while editing to help identify potential issues. Follow accessibility guidelines pertaining to content and documents.
- Planning Accessible Course Materials
- Creating Accessible Courses
- Zoom Considerations for Teaching Students with Disabilities
- Accessibility within Canvas
- General Accessibility Design Guidelines in Canvas
- Accessibility within Panopto
- Accessibility within WordPress / CampusPress
- Accessibility within Zoom
- Zoom Accessibility Frequently Asked Questions
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.
- Make your Word documents accessible by Microsoft
- Creating Accessible Microsoft Word Documents by WebAIM
- Make your PowerPoint presentations accessible by Microsoft
- PowerPoint accessibility by WebAIM
- Make your Excel documents accessible by Microsoft
- InDesign accessibility by Adobe
- One-page document cheatsheets by the National Center on Disability and Access to Education (NCDAE)
To create accessible PDFs:
- Create accessible PDFs by Microsoft
- Create and verify PDF accessibility using Acrobat Pro by Adobe
- Adobe Acrobat XI Pro Accessibility Guide (PDF)—this is a long, detailed document; helpful for complex PDFs
Social Media Posts
Create accessible social media posts using guidance from these resources:
- Social Media Accessibility (University Communications)
- Refer to audio, video and slideshow guidelines for social media posts regarding captions, transcripts, and audio description.
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.
- How do I edit the alternative text for a photo on Instagram?
- How do I add a caption on Instagram?
- Instagram Accessibility for Vision Impairments and Hearing Loss