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Library Accessibility & Instruction Guide

A guide for MSU instructors that compiles information about accessibility of library resources, as well as accessibility resources and best practices for instruction, all in one reference point.

Accessibility Checklist

Basic Best Practices

*NOTE: The following is an incomplete list! Additional Best Practices outlined in WCAG 2.0 

For online instruction, following basic digital accessibility best practices will help ensure content is more accessible to students.  

  • Descriptive link text
  • Colors are not used to indicate importance
  • Tables have headers
  • Images have alt text
  • Videos have closed captions
  • Audio files have a transcript
  • Text of images and/or infographics is also available as plain text
  • Additional Best Practices outlined in WCAG 2.0 

Additional checklists:

From WebAim:

From MSU:

Print Accessibility Checklist

"There are no absolute ideals for accessibility that will provide access to all people. However, by following these guidelines, [users] are less likely to be needlessly overlooked." (Gilson & Kitchin, 2007)

  • Use large font (e.g. Title: 72 point, Section Title: 46–56 point, Block Text: 24–36 point)
  • Use non-serif fonts (e.g. Helvetica, Veranda, Arial).
  • Contrast font color with background color (e.g. black text, white background).
  • Use 1.5–2.0 line spacing.
  • Optimize white space.
  • Do not place text over images.
  • Ensure adequate resolution of graphics (visible from 6 feet when printed).
  • Provide a large print hardcopy (18 point text).
  • Provide online copy.

Sources: solopress.comasha.orgGilson & Kitchin, 2007

Image Descriptions (alt text)

The following is an abbreviated list from the Full Image Description Guidelines from the Diagram Center:

  • Consider context
    • Is it the central point of a lesson? If so, the image is a critical part of the learning concept and should be described as thoroughly as possible.
    • Is it purely decorative? If the image does not teach anything, describe it as a decorative image and avoid sharing irrelevant information.
    • Is it part of an assessment or activity? If so, be sure to describe the specific pieces of information needed to complete the task.
    • Is an action required? When a figure contains additional links or represents an activity (e.g. pencil icon represents a writing exercise, headphone icon represents a listening exercise), highlight the functional role to facilitate navigation.
  • Know your target audience (e.g. age, culture, subject-matter expertise).
    • Use vocabulary and phrases appropriate for the reader.
    • Reference examples and details that the reader will understand (this includes objects and attributes used in the description).
  • Be concise
    • More is NOT better – be succinct.
    • Don’t repeat information presented in the main or adjacent texts. Instead, direct readers to existing descriptions, when available (e.g. captions).
    • Include color only when it is significant 
    • Avoid introducing new concepts or terms.
  • Be objective
    • Describe only what you see – physical appearances and actions rather than emotions and possible intentions.
    • Don’t interpret or analyze the material. Instead, allow readers to form their own opinions.
    • Don’t omit uncomfortable or controversial content, such as images associated with politics, religion, or sex.
  • Use consistent tone and language
    • Use active verbs in the present tense.
    • Check spelling, grammar, and punctuation.
    • Apply the same writing style and terminology as the surrounding text.
    • Write out abbreviations and symbols to ensure proper pronunciation by screen readers.
    • Use descriptive vocabulary that adds meaning (e.g. “map” instead of “image”).
  • Describe charts & graphs
    • Determine if the chart or graph can be sufficiently summarized in a sentence or two. If not, provide the data in a table with row and column headings.

Word Documents

  1. Right-click a picture and choose Format Picture
  2. In the Format Picture panel, click the box icon with for arrows Layout Properties button
  3. Under Alt Text  enter a description of the image in the "Description" field
Title vs Description for alt text in Word

If you just want to remember one thing: Use Description, not Title.   

Why? Microsoft's intention: "The screen reader first reads the title. The person can then decide whether to hear a longer description." If there is no title, it will just read the description.

Specific considerations, detailed in a blog post by Terrill Thompson about alt-text in Word.  

 

Audio Accessibility Best Practices

Some best practices for audio recordings accessibility are:

  • Provide a written transcript that users can view or download, and post it in the same location with the audio file. The transcript does not have to be verbatim what is said in the video, so if you write out the script in advance that is okay.  
  • Include a detailed description wherever you post the video, which should include the general topic(s) covered or a brief overview of the video. 
  • Audio consistency and high volume are best to strive for when initially recording. 
  • Include the audio length in the title or description,.e.g. Gray wolves howling, Yellowstone National Park (1:24 mins).

Video Accessibility Best Practices

Some best practices for video accessibility are:

  • Include all content in the audio track (audio description). It's best to make sure that all meaningful content shown in the video or presentation is also mentioned in the audio track. This is for users who might be listening to the video without seeing or watching the screen, so if there is text or something meaningful on a slide that doesn't get spoken in the audio, they would miss it. 
  • Add closed captioning to the final video. YouTube and other video hosting platforms can generate automatic closed captions, so all you have to do is check for accuracy.
  • Provide a written transcript that users can view or download, and post it on the same page with the video. The transcript does not have to be verbatim what is said in the video, so if you write out the script in advance that is okay.  
  • Include a detailed description wherever you post the video, which should include the general topic(s) covered or a brief overview of the video. 
  • Audio consistency and high volume are best to strive for when initially recording. 
  • Include the video length in the title or description, e.g. Topic Exploration Video (5 mins).