6 Accessibility Considerations

Kim Mears

In the Accessibility Toolkit – 2nd Edition, Amanda Coolidge, Sue Doner, Tara Robertson, and Josie Gray focus on an adjunct to Universal Design: Universal Design for Learning (UDL). UDL is a set of principles for curriculum development that gives all individuals equal opportunities to learn and provides a blueprint for creating instructional goals, methods, materials, and assessments that work for everyone. Rather than a single, one-size-fits-all solution, it offers a flexible approach that can be customized and adjusted for individual needs.

Best Practices for Media Objects

The Accessibility Toolkit also provides best practices to guide your inclusion of media objects:

Accessibility Statements

Once you have created an accessible textbook, you should provide an accessibility statement. While an accessibility statement is not required, it can be an important and useful addition to a resource for which you have worked to make accessible. This section will outline guidelines and recommendations about what to include in an accessibility statement and who the accessibility statement is for.

What is an accessibility statement?

An accessibility statement acts as a resource for those who have questions about the accessibility features of your resource. It should provide an overview of accessibility features and contact information in case there are any problems.

Who are you doing this for?

When writing an accessibility statement, it is important to keep in mind who the statement is for. This will guide the language you use and the type of information you include. Ultimately, the accessibility statement is for people who have disabilities or are having problems accessing your resource for whatever reason.

Hassell Inclusion’s blog post on “How to write an effective Accessibility Statement” notes that many accessibility statements ignore who will be accessing the accessibility statement or why. Instead, they make statements about the organization’s commitment to accessibility, combined with technical jargon related to web development, accessibility, and accessibility legislation. Rather than acting as a helpful resource for people with disabilities, this type of accessibility statement “read[s] like a combination of a sales pitch on how socially responsible the organization is, a technology manual, and some legal small print.”[1]

Chances are, the only time people will be interested in an accessibility statement is when they have trouble accessing content in the textbook or resource. Therefore, make sure your accessibility statement provides the information readers are looking for.

What do you need to do?

Here are tips for writing a useful accessibility statement:

  • Use clear and simple language, avoiding jargon and technical terms
  • Include information about how people can personalize their experience.

This might include information about:

  • features of the platform used for the resource (e.g., if a book is in Pressbooks, mention the ability of users to increase the font size in the web book)
  • the ability to change browser settings
  • a link to each available file format
  • assistive technologies

Outline specific accessibility features and how to use them when relevant. Do not make false claims or ignore known accessibility issues. Be as transparent and open about accessibility barriers as possible.

This means:

  • describing what is being done to fix the problem and a timeline
  • providing any temporary workarounds

Include information about who is responsible for the accessibility of the content and their contact information so people can submit issues, suggestions, or complaints related to accessibility.

Describe the organization’s accessibility policy, and the work that has been done to make the resource accessible. Here, you can provide information like:

  • accessibility guidelines you are following (e.g., WCAG 2.0)
  • any federal, provincial, or state legislation you are conforming to
  • any user testing you performed

Here is a sample accessibility statement that you can adapt for your own purposes:

Sample Accessibility Statement

Accessibility Checklist

Organizing content
  • Content is organized under headings and subheadings.
  • Headings and subheadings are used sequentially (e.g., Heading 1, Heading 2).

Images

  • Images that convey information include alternative text (alt text) descriptions of the image’s content or function.
  • Graphs, charts, and maps also include contextual or supporting details in the text surrounding the image.
  • Images do not rely on colour to convey information.
  • Images that are purely decorative do not have alt-tag descriptions. (Descriptive text is unnecessary if the image doesn’t convey contextual content information).
Links
  • The link is meaningful in context and does not use generic text such as “click here” or “read more.”
  • Links do not open in new windows or tabs.
  • If a link must open in a new window or tab, a textual reference is included in the link information (e.g., [NewTab]).
Tables
  • Tables include row and column headers.
  • Row and column headers have the correct scope assigned.
  • Tables include a caption.
  • Tables avoid merged or split cells.
  • Tables have adequate cell padding.
Multimedia
  • A transcript is available for each multimedia resource including relevant non-speech content.
  • Transcript includes:
    • speaker’s name
    • all speech content
    • relevant descriptions of speech
    • descriptions of relevant non-speech audio
    • headings and subheadings
  • Captions of all speech content and relevant non-speech content are included in the multimedia resource; this includes the audio synchronized with a video presentation.
  • Audio descriptions of contextual visuals (e.g., graphs, charts) are included in the multimedia resource.
Formulas
  • Formulas have been created using MathML.
  • Formulas are images with alternative text descriptions if MathML is not an option.
Font size
  • Font size is 12 points or higher for body text.
  • Font size is 9 points for footnotes or endnotes.
  • Font size can be zoomed to 200%.

License

OER Toolkit Copyright © by Kim Mears. All Rights Reserved.

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