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Faculty Checklist for Accessible Content

This guide contains simple things you can do now to improve the accessibility of the digital materials you provide to your students. While it is not comprehensive, following these steps can improve the educational experience for students with disabilities in particular, and all students in general.

Feel free to download and/or print this Online Course Checklist (DOC).

For more information and deeper learning on this topic, the Educause website provides some useful accessibility resources.


Does your course syllabus include an accessibility statement?

Please Copy and Paste the Statement below into your syllabus:

“Any student who feels they may need an accommodation based on the impact of a disability should contact me privately to discuss your specific needs and provide written documentation from Student Accessibility Services. If you are not yet registered as a student with a disability, please contact Student Accessibility Services at 740-593-2620 or visit the office in 348 Baker University Center.”

Do all your images have alternative text?

The key principle is that computers and screen readers cannot analyze an image and determine what the image presents. You must provide alternative text (also called “alt text") to the user which presents the CONTENT and FUNCTION within the context of your content. Learn more about image descriptions and alternative text on the OIT Accessibility website.

In Blackboard, use the option to add ALT Text to add a short description of the image.

Screenshot of Blackboard showing Alt Text Box
Does your text have enough contrast?

If you use a combination of text and background color other than black and white, make sure there is enough contrast between text color and background – all text should be very easy to read. Text on busy backgrounds (photos or patterns) is difficult or impossible to read for people with low-vision, so avoid text on busy backgrounds. The two colors used for background and text should not be similar.

Use the color contrast checker from WebAIM if you would like to check if colors used are high contrast. The ratio requirement for small text is 4.5:1 or greater, for text larger than 12pt (16px) is 3:1 or greater.

Is your font size at least 12pt (16px)?

Using a base font size of 12pt (16px) on Blackboard and on any other documents used in your course will make it much easier for everyone to read.

Does your course content blink or flash?

Avoid websites or media with excessive blinking or flashing content. Content that flashes at certain thresholds can trigger seizures in some people.

Are your hyperlinks descriptive?

Make sure all web links work and go to the correct page. Avoid using “Click here" as a link. Screen reader users often use a feature that allows them to hear all the links on your webpage or electronic document to help them scan it. Create the hyperlink using short descriptive text within your content.

Good example:

To read over the Coronavirus FAQs, visit the Coronavirus Response webpage.

Bad example:

To read over the Coronavirus FAQs, click on this link

Bad example:

Click here to read over the Coronavirus FAQs webpage.

Did you use the Check Accessibility feature in Microsoft Office Products?

In nearly all Microsoft products, search for the "Check Accessibility" feature and follow the instructions until the checker says "No accessibility issues found." Make this a habit before uploading any documents students need for your courses.

Learn more about creating accessible documents on the OIT Accessibility website.

Is the structure of your course materials well organized?

Keep your online course modules and content organized in a consistent matter. Make sure every document, module, and media element has a proper title. Avoid combining titles into one word (e.g. weekonepaper) or camel case for proper file name convention (e.g. weekOnePaper). The only way titles without spaces are acceptable is if each word is capitalized (e.g. WeekOnePaper).

If you use headings to organize content, it should follow proper outline form. Heading 1 (or h1) should be the title of the page or document, followed by subheadings designated with headings 2-6 in parent-child relationships to the content.

Are your PDFs accessible?

Scanned PDFs are not accessible. Scanned PDFs are images of text and therefore cannot be accessed by screen readers or other assistive technology.

If you must use a scanned PDF there is a free (during the Covid-19 crisis) tool students can use that may help improve the accessibility of that document. Blackboard Ally is offering access to a file transformer tool for instructors and students to use. The effectiveness of this automated converter tool will depend upon the quality of the scanned document.

Here are a few steps you can take when you create a document that will be saved as a PDF:

Office 2016- PC

  1. Select File then click Save As and choose where you want the file to be saved.
  2. In the Save As dialog box, choose PDF in the Save As type list.
  3. Select Options, make sure the document structure tags for accessibility check box is selected, and then select OK.

Save an accessible PDF with Mac for Office

  1. Select File then click Save As (or press Command+Shift+S), type the file name in the Save As text box, and then choose where you want the file to be saved.
  2. In the Save As dialog, go to the File Format drop down box. Use the Down Arrow to browse through file types and select PDF.
  3. Select the radio button Best for electronic distribution and accessibility (uses Microsoft online service). This ensures the PDF is tagged.
  4. Select Save.

Learn more about creating accessible documents on the OIT Accessibility website.

Did you activate captions on your video?

For a video to be accessible, captions must be present when using video in your course.

For Panopto users, learn to use and then edit automated speech recognition (ASR).

Keep in mind that if you add a video to a PowerPoint presentation (or in any other presentation software), the video must have captions and you must enable those captions when you play the video.

Did you review automated video captions?

Accurate video captions are required on all videos to meet accessibility standards. Do not rely on auto-generated captions. While automatic captioning technology is improving, you must check and edit those captions for accuracy. If you are not the owner of the video, contact the owner and request they activate and edit the captions. 

Learn more about how to edit video captions on the OIT Accessibility website.

Are your audio files transcribed?

A transcript is required for all audio to meet accessibility standards. A transcript is a Word or .txt (plain text) document that matches the spoken content of the audio file. You must make an audio transcript available along with the audio file.

Did you provide multiple options to present your course content?

Every student has a different learning style. Provide options for learning by presenting content utilizing a combination of text, video, audio, and/or image format.

Is your course content written clear, concise, and without acronyms and jargon?

Address a wide range of language skills as you write content; for example, define acronyms at least once in the document, define terms, avoid or define jargon.

Does your syllabus include details on all activities to be completed during the course?

Allow adequate time for activities, projects, and tests; for example, give details of project assignments in the syllabus so that students can start working on them early.

Do you offer office hours or contact information to be available for questions and/or feedback?

Be available to answering any questions students may have. Provide feedback on project parts and offer corrective opportunities.