Accessible Websites, Graphics, Videos and Documents

Accessible Design

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 covers a wide range of recommendations for making Web content more accessible. Following these guidelines will make content more accessible to a wider range of people with disabilities.

Don’t let this overwhelm you — accessibility can be a straightforward exercise, especially when you consider it right from the start!

The UK Government created a series of "Dos and Don’ts" posters as a way of approaching accessibility from a design perspective. They are an excellent, simple and straightforward resource that breaks down designing for accessibility.

Click the following links to download these poster sets directly to your computer or device:
Accessible Design Dos And Donts Poster Set*
Accessible Design Research: Who To Involve When Poster*
Designing Accessible Resources Poster Set*
*If the automatic download does not work, try right-clicking the link and opening it in a new tab.

Accessible Websites

Many website-building platforms offer support and tools to make your website more accessible. For example, Squarespace has an article on their support website describing some ways to improve your site’s accessibility. You may also consult the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.1.

Start by having a conversation with your web designer, or reading over the options of the various website builders, to make sure you aren’t leaving any of your audience behind.

Resources and Tools
Wikipedia has a great primer on website accessibility, as does Plank Design.

Web Accessibility offers some great tips on how to develop a more accessible website.

BBC My Web My Way has how to guides and resources to make the web easier to use for users.

In the BBC Future Media Accessibility Standards and Guidelines, BBC outlines the requirements and recommendations necessary for ensuring their digital products are accessible to the widest possible audience. A really great reference tool for you to base your own practices on.

Creative Users Projects is a cultural connector and sector builder of disability arts and accessible curatorial practice. Their website has some very cool accessibility features and they also have a great resource list. Check them out!

Accessible Documents

Developing an accessible online document is a helpful way to ensure that all people reviewing and reading the document can do so with ease and clarity.

There are ways to create accessible PDF’s. In your edit tab, you will find an Accessibility tab that takes you to features to help make the document accessible.

Note: if a PDF is scanned, you will have to perform what is called an Optical Character Recognition (OCR) so that the image will be converted to actual characters. This feature allows you to add descriptions to tags and photos.

There are also ways to create an accessible Microsoft Word document. Using a style in your document is helpful for screen readers to understand where the headings are and what the most important information is, etc. Proper headings and spacing is important when it comes to formatting your page. You can set your headings in a word document under “Styles” in the Home tab. In Word, it is also helpful to create a table of contents, which should include all headings you outlined in the document. You can also program text attached to a photo, which is very helpful for the reader; this can be done when you right click and “format picture.”

Alt-Text Field

What is the alt-text for? W3 describes it very well, but in brief, the alt attribute is defined in a set of tags (namely, img, area and optionally for input and applet) to allow you to provide a text equivalent for the object. In other words, alt text describes the function of each visual.

There is an excellent Guide to the Alt-Text Field by Phase2 that explains how to best use Alt-Text for your photos, logos and designs.

Closed Captions and Transcription

Live content and recorded content with can be captioned in order to make audio components accessible to d/Deaf or hard-of-hearing audiences.

Captions assume the viewer cannot hear. Closed captions are different than subtitles, which assume that the audience can hear the audio, but need the dialogue provided in text form as well. Closed captioning assumes an audience cannot hear the audio and needs a text description of what they would otherwise be hearing.

A by-product of closed captions is the transcript created. Caption transcripts can be used for archives and web pages, or for translation into other language subtitles and voice-overs.

Closed Captioning vs Open Captions

The difference between closed captioning vs open captioning is based on user control. Closed caption encoding allows the user to turn the captions on or off on offline videos. Open caption encoding burns the captions into the video, and whether the video is published online or offline, users can’t turn the captions off. Open captions are useful in situations where play-back technology doesn't allow for "side-car" files like closed captions to be uploaded.

Caption Quality Standards

Canada's closed captions quality standards are based on 4 principles: accuracy and monitoring, responsibility, consistency, and clarity. These captioning standards apply to pre-recorded, live, and near-live video programming.

  • Captions accurately match the spoken words in the audio to the fullest extent possible. This includes preserving any slang or accents in the content and adding the non-speech elements.
  • Captions carry the responsibility to preserve the meaning and intent of the program even in editing. Editing of captions should be used as a last resort, andonly to ensure comprehension.
  • Captions use a consistent approach to the style, format, placement, description, speaker, designation, rate of display, and so on, within each program.
  • Captions give a clear complete and true rendering of program audio: identify who is speaking, include non-speech information, and keep descriptions simple.

There are a lot of considerations and protocols around closed captioning. 3PlayMedia has compiled an excellent article on Captioning Standards . It includes this graphic of Captioning Guides from the Described and Captioned Media Program (DCMP) pictured below:

CC Dcmpchecklist

Closed Caption and Transcription Services

You might not have the time to do closed captions yourself. Here are some companies that offer live captioning, closed caption and transcription services:

  • Trint is a subscription transcription service. Their speech-to-text platform makes any audio and video searchable, editable and shareable.
  • Otter.ai is a transcription service with three pricing levels; Basic (which is free), Pro, and Business. The Basic plan comes with 600 mins of transcription minutes a month, with a maximum of 40 mins/recording session.
  • Rev provides a variety of on-demand services with a fee-per-minute model. They also have an hourly rate for live captionning on a digital meeting platform like Zoom.


Some excellent examples of excellent accessibly designed websites. Notably, both CreativeUsers and the DATT feature accessibility toolbars, where users can adjust how the website looks and operates in order to suit their access needs.

Created by kpalm. Last Modification: Thursday January 7, 2021 12:42:38 EST by kpalm.