How to Make Your Content More Accessible

Accessibility and Universal Design are becoming increasingly important when it comes to designing content, spaces or services. While Accessibility puts an emphasis on supporting users with disabilities, Universal Design takes a broader view taking into account differences such as users’ gender, age, native language and learning preference.

As educators and designers, it is important to be aware of how we can create content that is inclusive and universally accessible.  Below you will find some helpful tips from different sources.

Best practices for text based documents and communications:

  • Use fonts that are more legible (e.g., Arial, Calibri, Georgia, Helvetica, Tahoma, Verdana).
  • Color contrast can be a big issue for someone with low vision or color blindness. Check color contrast between text and background. (tip: use the Color Contrast Checker on the WebAIM site).
  • Use active hyperlinks that have descriptive anchor text indicating where the link leads.
  • If using mathematical equations, create them using MathJax. It is compatible with screen readers and you can also copy equations into Office, LaTex  and other software.
  • For tables, use table headers for rows and columns, use captions for table titles, and avoid merged cells.
  • When formatting, rather than relying on bold and italics to delineate sections and headers, use formatting tools within Microsoft or other text editing applications to create headers, sections, and lists.
  • Format attached documents with appropriate headings to ensure they can be read by screen readers.
  • Properly tag attached PDF files to ensure their structures can be read by screen readers. To learn more about making accessible PDF see PDF Accessibility Standards on the Adobe Acrobat website.

Best practices for multimedia:

  • Include captions and transcripts for video and audio, and descriptive alternative text for images.
  • Avoid using color alone to convey information; if unavoidable, use a color contrast checker.
  • Avoid animations, but if using them, describe them sufficiently.
  • Avoid the use of Flash; use HTML 5.0 instead.
  • Avoid bright, flashing graphics that may cause photo epileptic seizures

Best Practices for general instruction:

  • Be sure that you provide your students with clear expectations, instructions and directions for all assignments and tests. Students with cognitive impairments or learning disabilities can have trouble focusing on even simple tasks. Clear directions and understandable expectations can help them focus, making them much more likely to succeed.
  • Present content in multiple ways (e.g. in a combination of text, video, audio, and/or image format).
  • Provide feedback often and choose options for communication and collaborating that are accessible to individuals with a variety of disabilities.
  • Provide options for demonstrating learning (e.g., different types of test items, portfolios, presentations, discussions).
  • Be aware that not all web applications and websites are accessible and may require additional services for students to have equal access. A quick check can be done via WAVE a web accessibility evaluation tool

If you are interested in incorporating any of these tips, you may seek help from the Instructional Designers team in your college.



Accessibility and Universal Design:

Universal Design:  Process, Principles, and Applications:

Equal Access:  Universal Design of Instruction:

Universal Design Online Content Inspection Tool (UDOIT):

Difference between accessible, usable, and universal design:

What is Universal Design?

Making Progress on Course Content Accessibility


  1. Anita Vyas June 8, 2018
  2. Velvette Laurence June 8, 2018

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