Accessibility: Creating Accessible Documents

When you create electronic documents using Microsoft Word, Microsoft PowerPoint, Adobe Acrobat, or other tools, it is very important to follow some basic steps so your documents will be accessible to all students with and without disabilities.


Use the built-in "Styles" in your authoring tools, such as Word, PowerPoint, or Canvas editing bar, to implement headings and subheadings that will be correctly interpreted by assistive devices. An attached document or a myCourses content page formatted using your software’s built in "styles" will allow students who use a screen reader to better follow how your content is organized. When formatted properly, the screen reader software allows students to jump between headings/subheadings with simple keystrokes.


Whenever using images in your course to communicate information, you will need to add alternative text to the image so students who cannot see the image have access to the information.

For more information, please read Add alternative text to a shape, picture, chart, table, SmartArt graphic, or other object from Microsoft.

For complex charts and graphics, simple alternative text won’t be enough to deliver the message. You will need to add extra text description for them.

File Names

Make sure filenames in your course align with the syllabus reference so your students can easily locate them.

Tables / Figures

Using screen reader software to read a table can be very challenging. The screen reader will read the table from left to right and from top to bottom. Students will easily get lost if there is no description of the relationship between the rows and columns.

When you create your electronic document or myCourses pages, avoid using tables to format the page. If a table is needed, refrain from creating a table that is too complicated (nested rows or columns, for example).


When you add a link to a website or an article in your course or electronic documents, avoid using the text, "Click Here". Students who use a screen reader won’t be able to understand it because when a user scans for a link screen readers will interpret this as a "click here" instead of the specific link you are pointing to (contextual text surrounding the link will be overlooked). Use descriptive and unique text for your link for better understanding.


  • Good practice: Please visit Instructional Design and Development for information about online instruction best practices.  
  • Not recommended: Please click here for more information about Instructional Design.




Article ID: 885
Fri 7/19/19 5:40 PM
Thu 12/3/20 10:24 AM