These techniques are taken from the above PowerPoint Presentation by Dr Simon Ball, Senior Advisor, JISC TechDis Service, presented at Plymouth University in January 2008. TechDis believe it is best practice to take a holistic approach to accessibility. “Do not be afraid to add value in different ways for different learners – everybody doesn’t have to access the same information in the same way, as long as the learning outcomes are met and the experience is broadly equivalent. Broadening the range of what is offered will increase accessibility overall, despite specific barriers that may arise.”
Best Practice with Fonts and Colour
- Ideally when creating materials online allow users to select according to their own preferences.
- The chosen font (for on-screen) should be Sans Serif and be no smaller than 12 point.
- Avoid large amounts of underlining, capitalising or italicising.
- Try to achieve good contrast without the glare issues of black on white. Increase font depth for light text on dark background.
Use of Styles and Formatting
- Using styles and formatting in Word documents (rather than manually adjusting fonts for titles etc) makes the document easy to look at quickly through the ‘document map’ command on the view menu. This is because each ‘heading’ from the list of styles shows up in a list that is not only easily skimmable, but also readable by document reading software. For someone with a visual impairment using this reading software it means that they can quickly get an overview of the text.
Appropriate Use of Images
- Insert Alternative Text where relevant (easy in Word – see Accessibility Essentials 2)
- Explore whether meaning is more difficult to grasp if whole image cannot be viewed at once.
- If materials are to be printed, check image in greyscale.
Presentations and PowerPoint
- Face forward while speaking.
- Ensure content is vocalised – don’t use the classic ‘you can all read the slide so I won’t read it out’
- If a mike or audio system is available, use it.
- If using animation or video, let it finish before speaking.
- Use the Notes field in PowerPoint so students can hear via a screen reader!
- Much more in Accessibility Essentials 3!
Accessibility benefits of PDFs
- Reflows the text of a document written in columns so that it flows all the way across the page. Easier to read on screen – reduces the need to scroll up and down.
- BUT depends on the reading order being tagged properly when the document is created – needs to be checked.
- Automatically scrolls through document, speed controlled by up and down arrows.
Read out loud
- Whole document or current page only. Voices can be changed (edit>preferences>reading).
- NB reading order needs to be checked.
- Allows reader to customise the document. Useful but limited to font and background colours.
- Shows each page as a series of thumbnails – useful when looking for a particular image, allows reader to find it quickly.
- Similar to Document Map in Word – allows faster navigation through the document, reader able to jump to specific sections etc. Structure of Word documents picked up when converted to PDF format.