As a student, you may not have considered accessible content and adapting your work to make it accessible to everyone. However, this issue will likely become much more important when you enter the working world but even as a student, I think it’s still important to consider this. Perhaps you are making a presentation, you may want to consider if it’s easily accessible for everyone in the audience. Also, if you get in the habit of doing this now it will not only help in your future it will help those who view your work such as fellow students or tutors, especially those with disabilities or impairments. If the content isn’t accessible to everyone some viewers may be confused like this.
Over 1 billion people have some form of accessibility requirement. So, the added bonus of ensuring that your content supports these individuals is that the changes will benefit everyone. Using Microsoft Office, Canvas, Teams, and other apps or software correctly directly benefits both you and the person reading them.
Accessible technology benefits everyone, including people with:
- Permanent disabilities like those listed below
- Temporary impairments like cataracts or a broken arm
- Situational impairments like working hands-free and eyes-free while driving
Common types of inaccessible content
Some types of content are more accessible than others. Below are some examples of types of content that can prevent people from understanding the information being conveyed and how to make them accessible. Don’t worry as a student you won’t be marked down for not including these in any assignments though it would be useful for those with impairments who may view your work. Again, it is more likely you will have to think more about this in the working world.
- Images – Won’t be accessible to people with visual impairments so you need to provide meaningful alternative text.
- Tables – Those who use screen readers cannot read tables in the same way that sighted users can. This assistive technology relies on the table being coded with HTML tags which can then be applied to the table headers.
- Videos and audio files – To ensure accessibility to everyone, you need to include transcripts or captions. Remember to include descriptions of images included in video content. Captions will help those with hearing impairments to understand the video. Whereas for those with visual impairments transcripts can be read by a screen reader.
- Links – You need descriptive, explanatory text to help those who use screen readers to be able to distinguish between one link and another.
Microsoft 365 tools for accessible content
Immersive Reader is a tool that lets you remove clutter and adjust the font, colours and spacing to aid reading comprehension. This can help all readers but can be particularly useful for anyone with dyslexia or visual stress. The video below tells you how to get started! You’ll find the Immersive Reader button in most Microsoft Office programs and on University Canvas pages too!
Magnifier and read aloud
This tells you how to use Windows 10 Magnifier read aloud & text cursor indicator. These are new Windows 10 Accessibility updates. Magnifier now has Read Aloud from anywhere, and there is an easy way to change your text cursor indicator colour and size
Office Lens captures notes and information from projectors, whiteboards, documents, books, handwritten memos, or anything with a lot of text. It can also remove shadows and odd angles so that images are easier to read. You can upload document and whiteboard images to Word, PowerPoint, OneNote, OneDrive, and you can save them as PDFs or send them in email.
Here is a useful step-by-step tutorial that shows you how to use the built-in Dictation in Word, OneNote, PowerPoint as well as Windows 10. Dictation (speech to text) especially helps those studying or working from home that need this inclusive capability.
How to create accessible content?
You may be wondering “so how do I know what I should or shouldn’t include to make my content more accessible?”. Well, the university has designed a very useful poster that guides you through what you should include or avoid to make your content more accessible. You can view it below or go to this link for a PDF copy.
Relevant skills guide: Digital Wellbeing – Accessible content for an inclusive workplace