Webinar: Creating Accessible Materials

 

audio version (opens in a new tab)

 

 

Access to information is crucial for everyone, and this includes making information accessible to people with disabilities. On February 16, 2021, I attended a webinar on this topic presented by

“RAISE Center | Resources for Access, Independence, Self-Advocacy and Employment”.

I learned about the webinar by reading a newsletter from the

National Technical Assistance Center on Transition.

Accessibility tips and resources were provided during the RAISE webinar. Here is a

link to webinar recording and materials.

In this article, I will summarize what I learned and provide reflections.

 

The webinar began with resources to help improve word choice. I heard a presenter state that 50% of adults read up to an 8th-grade level. Therefore, information should be easy to understand. Microsoft Word has a readability feature to change words. Readability function helps determine reading level of a document. An online source for changing wording is

Rewordify.

It provides suggestions for word changes after words are entered. The discussion then focused on content typically encountered on the web and in documents.

 

For documents which use headings to separate material, heading structure is important for accessibility. This means using different heading levels for various content when necessary. The goal of headings is to find relevant information. Pictures also need to be accessible. Image alt text is a description of the picture in context. This helps someone using a screen reader understand what pictures show. The webinar wrapped up with some additional information.

 

For people with some vision, color contrast is important. The

accessibility tool WEBAIM

can help identify color contrast level. For screen reader users, links should be descriptive. Vague descriptions such as “click here” do not explain the link’s purpose if navigating by links only. Attendees were also given a web site containing accessibility resources. I am sharing the

accessibility cheat sheets

for the convenience of my readers. They are free resources designed to help in creating accessible material. I will now reflect on what I learned.

 

I recognize the value of words, having completed Academic English classes when I was in high school. It surprised me to hear the statistic that many adults read at or below an eighth-grade level. This knowledge will help me be more focused on both what I want to write and my word choice for simplicity. I also think it is important that the primary focus was on common content elements such as images and headings. Such knowledge may help people become more aware of accessibility concepts. Bottom line: learn, learn, learn!

 

Question for readers: What accessibility barriers do you typically encounter when accessing information? I will return next week with another article.

 

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