Did you know that one billion people in the world have a mental or physical disability? Or that 12.9% of all students in North America have some form of disability? It's important to make sure your communications are understood by all of your students and community members.
Accessibility best practices for all communication
It doesn't matter if it's email or Facebook, making your messages accessible is easy with these accessibility best practices.
- Write plainly. Keep your sentences short. Use words, or combination of words, with 1-2 syllables when possible. Use contractions. Use tools like Hemmingway Editor to measure the readability of your text.
- Don't use font styles or color alone to indicate importance! When you need to give a strong visual cue, make sure that you use an accessible alternative. Use an exclamation mark at the end of your sentence if it is important. Screen readers intonate exclamation and question marks. This means the tool will not read "question mark"—instead, it will lend a questioning tone as it reads a question aloud.
- Include alt text in your images. You don't need to say "Image of" as the assistive tools already know it is an image. Be concise, clear, and descriptive. Do not use the same alt text for every image, such as "Image illustrating associated text." It is meaningless and adds clutter.
- Add image captions when you can't add alt text. If you can't add alt text to your images, make sure your text conveys all of the information without relying on the image.
- Make links descriptive. Every link should describe what the user can expect to find when they click it. Avoid using generic phrases such as "click here" or "see more." Web addresses or URLs are not considered informative and should not be used. Instead make the text descriptive.
- Make your attachments accessible. Follow the same best practices to make your attachments accessible. To learn more, see Accessibility at Blackboard.
- Include closed captioning or transcripts with your videos. Provide a link to transcripts, if your video doesn't include closed captioning.
- Try listening to your message to make sure it sounds right. Use text-to-speech tools available on most devices to listen to your message before sending it.
Accessibility in social media
Social media is not always accessible. It's challenging for screen reader users to navigate and content doesn't always use headings, alt text for images, or video captioning. This doesn't mean that you can't use social media. It's where your audience is. Make sure your content is accessible as possible to reach your whole audience.
Follow the accessibility best practices for all of your content and these tips when using Facebook or Twitter.
- Provide a text alternative for all photos and images you post.
- Provide a link to transcripts when posting videos.
- Tell your audience what is in your tweet. If your tweet has photos, video, or audio, use these prefixes at the beginning of your tweet.
- Photos: [PIC]
- Videos: [VIDEO]
- Audio: [AUDIO]
- Place hashtags and mentions at the end of your tweet.
- Use camel case in hashtags. Initial cap the first letter of each word in your hashtag. For example, #BlackboardAccessibility
- Avoid text jargon that may sound strange when read by a screen reader.