Want to keep learning?

This content is taken from the University of Southampton's online course, Inclusive Learning and Teaching Environments. Join the course to learn more.

Skip to 0 minutes and 8 seconds ABI JAMES: So really, what we try and do is keep it simple as possible. The key things are make sure the text is accessible. And that’s really easy to test. Can you just select it and copy it to another application? Sometimes even, with some documents, there is copy protection on there, which stops you being able to transfer it into another document. The second important thing is to put in that structure. And by structure we mean making the document aware where something is a heading, where something is a paragraph break. And in many applications now, that’s all built-in in tools called styles. So you can say, this is a heading, and it will format all your headings the same way.

Skip to 0 minutes and 46 seconds That also makes it really easy to put in tables of contents and bookmarks, making the document much easier to search and navigate through. Another point is adding descriptions to images. Now in technical terms, in websites we talk about ALT tags, which is a description that’s hidden behind the image to describe what it is. But you can also think of it in terms of describing an image through a caption or making sure that the information you’re trying to portray in that visual information is included in the text nearby. Then you need to think about the more complex image type information, such as tables or graphs, scatter graphs.

Skip to 1 minute and 23 seconds Just think about how you would portray that information if you couldn’t see that visual information. Now there is a sophisticated technology for those who are blind or visually impaired, but often, we’re trying to also support those students who just want to listen to the file. So they can listen to it on the bus as they’re going along walking in the park, giving them those choices. And that is really where we get the wider benefits of accessibility.

Key points when producing multiple accessible formats

In this video you will learn about the key points that Abi feels are important when making resources accessible to encourage inclusion.

Here are the points in a list and they can be applied across several different file formats, such as docs, pdfs, pptx and html.


1. Make sure the content is accessible to other applications

  • Check your text can be selected and copied to another program – this helps with a range of study activities (e.g. making notes, checking definitions and translations, reading aloud text).

2. Create Style sheets with Headings and sub Headings

  • Make life simpler for yourself and avoid using underline or all capitals
  • Creating helpful navigational elements, such as content lists and page numbers 

3. Use short picture descriptions known as alt-tags

  • Convey important information about images, graphs and tables within captions or associated text

  • Think about possible barriers to using content on different devices and through different technologies

4. Select font sizes that are easy to read (12px) with good colour contrast levels. 

  • Or allow the reader to personalise the look and style of the materials
  • Avoid using colour as the only visual means to present information and in particular avoid red/green colour combinations for those with Colour Deficiency.

5. Support additional ways of producing equations, graphs and tables

  • Think about audio and image descriptions as well as different technologies to produce equations, graphs and tables.

Do you think that anything is missing from this list?

© This work is created by the University of Southampton and licensed under CC-BY 4.0 International Licence. Erasmus + MOOCs for Accessibility Partnership.

Share this video:

This video is from the free online course:

Inclusive Learning and Teaching Environments

University of Southampton