That’s a post I saw not long ago on social media. It reminded me of the Legally Blonde quote about getting into Harvard Law, and it struck me as overly simplistic and dismissive. To me, ensuring accessibility is hard sometimes. It requires careful thought. I’ve been at this a while, and I’m still learning more every day about making the content I create more accessible (including this website).
Just because creating accessible content can seem daunting at times doesn’t mean we should throw our hands up and not do it. Because let me tell you what isn’t hard at all. Empathy. Caring about others. Compassion. Not excluding people. Always striving to do the right thing. Inclusive design involves stepping into someone else’s shoes and considering things from their perspective. And even if we don’t always do it perfectly, we should keep trying our best to get it right. I’ll share some easy-to-follow principles in this post that will make creating accessible content less intimidating.
We usually think about accessibility in terms of websites and eLearning courses. But what about that great job aid you created? Or the instructor guide you developed? Or the slide deck you’re sending to participants to download? Would people with disabilities be able to access that content?
The revised Section 508 standards include electronic documents in the definition of information and communication technology (ICT)—meaning that if Section 508 compliance is required for your organization, it’s required for electronic documents. Even internal documents.
Even if it’s not required by law for your organization, making documents accessible is the right thing to do. In this post, I’ll share some ways you can use the POUR principles to create accessible documents and presentations.
POUR stands for perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust—all the things information must be for it to be accessible. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are organized around these four principles of accessibility. In this post, I’ll discuss each one and share ways to apply it to documents and presentations.
The Perceivable principle states that “information and user interface components must be presentable to users in ways they can perceive.” Consider, for example, learners with low vision, color blindness, hearing impairments, or sensory processing disorders.
Here are some strategies for making accessible documents and presentations that are perceivable:
Consider the examples below. Both charts convey the same data for the question, “Which is the better book series?” Divergent received 29% of the votes, and The Hunger Games received 71%. But in the first chart, this data might not be perceivable to a person with color blindness, and the font of the book titles is too small to be legible to many people. The second chart corrects these issues by adding the book titles in large font, with lines pointing to the respective part of the chart. Plus, the added percentages clarify the information further. Describing the data in the surrounding text, as I’ve done here, can help keep the length of the alt text reasonable.
The Operable principle states that “user interface components and navigation must be operable.”
Here are some questions to consider to ensure that documents and presentations are operable:
The Understandable principle states that “information and the operation of user interface must be understandable.”
Here are some strategies for creating accessible documents and presentations that are understandable:
The Robust principles states that “content must be robust enough that it can be interpreted reliably by a wide variety of user agents, including assistive technologies.”
You can make sure documents and presentations are robust by following these tips:
Remembering the POUR principles can make it easier to create accessible content.
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