Formatting your accessibility documents
We have created many elearning courses with built-in accessibility features such as videos with closed captions, embedded audio scripts, and tabbing. But sometimes the client requires an accessibility document, to compile all the audio transcripts and video or image descriptions in one place for ease of screenreader use. This means that there are a few things we need to keep in mind to maintain ease of use for learners using accessibility devices to access these documents.
Use meaningful hyperlink text
If the elearning contains links to external resources or additional information, the links in the accessibility document should say more than “click here for more”, and should also not just be the entire URL. Links should contain a clear description or the full title of the destination it is linked to. It should make sense as standalone information before sending your learner to the actual resource.
Avoid colour coding information
If any words require highlighting, avoid using only colour to make that distinction. This includes the hyperlinked text as described above. In the case of links, add underlining to differentiate the linked text. If the colour is used to indicate some kind of status, consider adding shapes or icons to ensure learners understand the significance of the words.
Use built-in headers and document styles
When organizing tiers of information, make sure you use the built in heading styles for your documents to maintain the correct tabbing sequence, and that the heading styles follow a logical order – Heading 1, then Heading 2 and Heading 3. Screenreaders can use these to tell your learner if the text is a title, heading, subheading, or body content, so they can tell when they have accessed a new topic.
If your document contains a table of contents, this will also use the headings you have created which will simplify navigation for all learners.
Use table headers
If your content contains a table of some kind, try to keep the table structure simple, and specify what the table column information means with table headers. Column headings, like text style headings, make the tables consistent and easy to navigate. Avoid having merged or split cells, which is confusing when read by a screenreader.
Avoid using blank spaces or lines for formatting
The easiest way to create blank space is to press Enter or Tab a number of times. This becomes very annoying for screenreading, which reads each one as “blank”. Use the Paragraph spacing options to adjust the line spacing for your layouts. If you select the option to show all non-printing characters, you can see the ¶ symbol every time you used Enter to create a new line. Ideally, these should only appear when you truly are stopping an old word or paragraph and starting a new one. They shouldn’t be there when you just want to create extra space.
With these tips in mind, you can create elearning accessibility documents that are actually accessible for your learners who need it the most!