This information was compiled by the American Historical Association as part of a series to support faculty that are teaching online. Use this link to see the original article. The checklist below is broadly accessible to anyone using digital materials. 

  • Run accessibility checkers on Word, PowerPoint, and Excel files (Review > Check Accessibility). This is a good first step and if you receive an error message, you may be using an out-of-date application that will hinder its accessibility.
  • Use automated formatting features, such as Headings, Bullet Points, and Numbered Lists. Instead of enlarging and bolding a font to indicate a heading, use the built-in heading feature and, if you’d like, modify the built-in heading to match your style. 
  • Eliminate unneeded blank text from pressing return or enter multiple times to communicate a page or section break. Instead, use the built-in features for this (Layout > Breaks). 
  • Be mindful of the limitations of Excel for students with accessibility concerns. Many common Excel features—merged cells, split cells, and nested tables—are difficult to communicate through a screen reader. Minimizing the use of these features where possible, along with minimizing the amount of blank space, can help make Excel files more accessible to a broad range of users.
  • Use bold or italics for emphasis. Using underline for emphasis can create confusion for color-blind students that may mistake it for a hyperlink. Additionally, use of color is fine, but it should always be paired with bold or italics to ensure the intent is communicated.
  • Never paste long URLs—always use descriptive hyperlinks. A screen reader will read the whole URL, letter-by-letter, if you paste into the body of text. Similarly, using the common “click here” hyperlink will make little sense to someone using a screen reader. Instead, try something like “Use this link to learn more about the program.”
  • Be mindful of font usage. Serif fonts, all caps, excessive italics, and hard-to-see color contrasts can cause accessibility issues. For PowerPoints, using 18 pt. font or larger is recommended.
  • Exercise caution with PDFs, Videos, Recordings, and Lectures. All video and audio recordings require subtitles or closed captions. And because PDFs are not compatible with screen readers, Word versions should be provided as well.  

Source: American Historical Association

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