Digital Media Accessibility

Consider all your text files, images, videos, presentations to be media assets that can be shared. In general, if they are to be usable to the widest range of people they can be constructed to take into account restrictions that some people have in their ability to use visual and auditory media without providing an alternate pathway to the content. Developing any media asset takes planning and awareness of the characteristics of your audience and how each popular file type handles accessibility.

Characteristics of Accessible Media

  • It is structured in a logical and consistent format so that top level heads are followed by sub points which are followed by tertiary points.
  • Alternate text descriptions are available for non-text elements (images, tables, charts, etc.)
  • Navigation and interaction is available using the keyboard
  • The visual design takes into consideration users with color-blindness
  • The fonts used are those that can be interpreted by screen readers

Making Accessible PDFs

Plan your production of PDF files from journal articles for OCR scanning to create files that screen/text readers can handle for students that may use screen readers or convert text to audio.

Additional Resources

AccessIT (University of Washington) 
A complete list of the 165 articles in the AccessIT Knowledge Base, arranged alphabetically by title. Articles on PDF, Flash, Word and PowerPoint accessibility are available.

The Center for Assistive Technology and Environmental Access
Provides information dedicated to practical instructions for making accessible PowerPoint presentations, video, Flash, Word, Excel and PDF files and accessible web pages among other tutorials. Be advised, these tutorials may take several hours and tend be heavy duty if you have little to no experience with the applications.
A subscription-based service that provides a series of videos on creating more accessible documents in various software programs.

The National Center for Accessible Media
NCAM's mission is to expand access to present and future media for people with disabilities; to explore how existing access technologies may benefit other populations; to represent its constituents in industry, policy and legislative circles; and to provide access to educational and media technologies for special needs students.

Georgia Tech Research on Accessible Distance Education
GRADE)is a research project at the Georgia Tech Center for Assistive Technology and Environmental Access (CATEA). They offer tutorials on the creation of accessible and usable distance education materials as well as fact sheets, guidelines and course design models for accessible design.

This site has a section that walks you through how to create an accessible Word file (PC). It is a service developed by Utah State University.